At the movies: the strange happenings in the rainy Pacific Northwest town of Forks, Washington get even stranger for love-struck Bella and her brooding boyfriend Edward (who happens to be a vampire); but best friend Jacob also has a supernatural secret. Teenaged love has rarely been so complicated and fraught with danger as it is in this second film of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
The tiny drop of blood from the nick on Bella's finger would be no big deal were she not in a room full of vampires. In the 2008 hit Twilight, she fell in love with Edward, the eternally young teenager of the Cullen clan of vampires who have chosen to live among humans and resist the temptation to eat them. They welcome their son's mortal girlfriend, but Edward realizes every minute together puts her life in danger.
Bella is heartbroken without her undead soul mate.
Even the devotion of her longtime best friend Jacob does little to console her.
Of course Jacob is changing too. He's taller …more muscular …and when he gets angry he transforms into a gigantic werewolf.
"Bella is so sure all the time and this is the one movie where she actually is baffled and totally, like, 'I don't know,'" explains actress Kristen Stewart. " It is weird to play Bella like that because she is so not like that."
Stewart returns as Bella and says the year since the original Twilight film has turned her character's life upside-down.
"It was really intense," she admits. "Just because of the nature of the story it goes in a completely different direction. We undermine the first. We establish a very ideological idea of love and basically we tell our main protagonist that she was wrong; and where is our story going to be left if Edward is not there? What I really love about New Moon is you see this girl really build herself back up and by the time she makes the sort of rash decision to spend eternity with a vampire, you believe her. She's really, like, 'you're old enough, and you're mature enough to know.' "
"What really helped was people's anticipation of the movie," says co-star Robert Pattinson, "and the fans of the series idea of what Bella and Edward's relationship is and what it represents to them."
Pattinson is Edward and the English-born actor says the entire cast felt the pressure of expectations from avid fans of the first film and the Twilight novels by Stephanie Meyers.
"It's some kind of ideal for a relationship and so just playing a scene where you're breaking up the ideal relationship, you feel … I mean I felt a lot of the weight behind that," Pattinson says. "Also it took away a lot of your fear of melodrama as well because it felt kind of seismic, if that's the right word. You could really feel the audience watching as you're doing it."
"I don't think there's any way to prepare yourself for this phenomenon. None of us expected it," adds Taylor Lautner.
Lautner, 17, added weight and muscle to fill out his character Jacob; but he knew the fans would expect no less.
"When we were filming Twilight we didn't expect anything. We were just filming a movie that we wanted the fans to enjoy and then it kind of just blew into this whole other world," he says. "So I don't think there's a way to prepare for that; but you could definitely say I felt a little bit of pressure trying to bring Jacob's character and Jacob and Bella's relationship alive for the fans, because this movie definitely develops their relationship and it sets up the love triangle, so it's a very important story."
"About a week before this was offered to me I was saying to a friend 'why are they making so many vampire movies? I just don't get it,'" director Chris Weitz says.
Weitz stepped in to direct New Moon, replacing Catherine Hardwicke who helmed the first film. No stranger to teenage romances (he made the first two American Pie comedies), Weitz says the appeal of vampires puzzles him.
"I still don't understand why," he admits. "I usually end up mumbling something about it being a very adaptable metaphor. In the 1980's it could be about AIDS; in the '90's it could be about greed; and I think now it's about the sense that the person you fall in love with for the first time is something other than you, something higher …something unattainable and transcendent."
Of course, fans know New Moon is not the end of the Twilight Saga as the action moves to Italy where the Vulturi clan sets the rules for vampires …rules that apparently include 'do not fall in love with mortals.'
But for that, they'll have to wait until next year when Eclipse, the third film, arrives at theaters.