With the release of Breaking Dawn: Part 2, I thought Twilight was at last over. How naïve of me. After all, where the big bucks are guaranteed, why attempt originality? The resurrection begins in February, with the release of Beautiful Creatures.
Watching the trailer, there's no doubt this is a nicotine patch for teenage Twilight addicts. It's being brazenly marketed with motifs so identical you might mistake it for a spoof. A girl arrives in a small, seemingly boring town, there are tensions in the classroom, lustful meetings in a meadow and a crazy supernatural family hiding back at the big mansion in the woods. It should be one massive joke.
Except then, bizarrely, acting talent like Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons appear. Are they just cashing in on the Twilight phenomenon too? There's no doubt this film is going to make money, repeatedly. For here's the really predictable news – Beautiful Creatures is part of a series! There are four of them.
If the classy cast is inspiring hope, so too is the apparent Edward and Bella power reversal. This time it's the girl in possession of supernatural power. She is the barrier to their relationship, and so the one in control. Perhaps Twilight's monopoly over young adult films might not be so bad. It could produce a fantasy harmless to impressionable minds. Just maybe, if the spectre of Twilight won't die, it might evolve.
Unfortunately, as the Twilight onslaught continues into March, it's author - Stephanie Meyer - gets involved. The opportunity to adapt for screen another of Meyer's novels, The Host, was cunningly spotted by three producers - Nick Wechsler, and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz. Indeed, instead of turning to a big film company, their own bank accounts financed the purchase of it's screen rights (and will be replenished by a good portion of the profits).
Perhaps we should be grateful, that amid this Twilight-mania someone has resorted back to Stephanie Meyer. There is nothing fundamentally original about The Host. Like Twilight, and then Beautiful Creatures, it's simply a mildly erotic romance, involving two teens whose passionate love and lust is frustrated by a dramatic barrier. But at least the formula has a fresh context. Rather than the blood-sucking or magic wielding supernatural, Melanie is separated from a relationship with Jared by “Wanderer” - the Soul (an alien race) with which she has been implanted. There's even a 'Team Jacob/ Team Edward' type love triangle, with Wanderer falling for another man while inhabiting Melanie's body.
Unfortunately, Meyer is a consistently problematic author. I haven't read The Host; I made that mistake with the first Twilight novel. Her writing was an experience too torturous to repeat. But even cursory glances suggest controversy ahead. Most notably, perhaps, the fact that Melanie is 17 and Jared 26 when they first fall in love and begin their relationship. There's also the emphasis on women's motherly instincts which has previously drawn criticism, with Melanie becoming guardian to her brother Jamie.
If she fulfills her threat of writing two sequels to The Host, we may be in real trouble of reliving Twilight. Film-makers need to open their eyes to the blindingly obvious. In their greed to share in it's spoils, they overlook that Stephanie Meyer is no pioneer. The formula she has reapplied to the science fiction setting of The Host, is one that has always been popular among young adults discovering their own sexuality. Likewise fantasy has consistently been a favourite setting for these emotions, perhaps because they still have the youthful imagination to appreciate it.
Young audiences don't need more vampires, carbon copies or Stephanie Meyer. Rather than trying to continually inject life into the corpse of Twilight, they should learn from what it achieved, and move forward.