Last week, during a rare kid-free day, I went with my wife to see the final installment of the Twilight franchise. It was part of an even rarer midday date that included lunch at Longhorn’s (which we got for free thanks to a gift card and an awesome coupon) and some Christmas shopping. Despite Bill Condon’s efforts to make the denouement action-packed and epic, I personally left the theater hating the film and hating the newly-turned vampire Bella even more.
Put it to you this way: when you actively root for the main character to die, or at the very least suffer a gross dismemberment, the movie has failed on many fronts.
Now, I’m certainly not the movie’s target audience, so my dislike of the film won’t mean a thing. But I did come away thinking that the vampires presented in Twilight are not scary. At all. Even when the climactic battle scene began, I never once felt anything approximating fear (unless you count a general unease at the realization that they would never let Bella die).
There are several fascinating directions you can go with this realization (the presentation of evil as something benign or heroic, the continued wuss-ification of traditional villains, etc) but I was mainly concerned with this one thought:
I know of two real-life vampires that are far scarier than Edward and Bella.
The first is fairly obvious, though many people don’t think of it: the emotional vampire. An emotional vampire is a person who drains you of your time, energy and joy for life. They accomplish this in various ways: being needy 24/7; ignoring their own faults while claiming victimhood to the faults of others; persistent negativity; serial disregard for how their actions (or inactions) affect others; or, as my friend would say, just “general dirtbaggery”.
Sometimes people are aware that they are emotional vampires; quite often, though, they are not. Dealing with them depends a lot on your personality type, but I can tell you one method of coping that usually doesn’t work — trying to make them see their vampirism. At best you can get them to admit that maybe they have some issues, but rarely can you get them to truly own their problem.
The second vampire is a little less well-known, but real nonetheless: the vampire If. Or, if you prefer, the vampire What If. This ethereal creature inhabits our waking and unconscious minds and renders us paralyzed. It drains us of life, energy, and hope. It can come in many forms — from good things like dreams, hopes, and opportunities to terrible things like doubt, loss and self-loathing. It is overwhelming and oppressive, and unlike the emotional vampire, lacks a physical form against which we can lash out.
The vampire If can only be defeated by complete surrender to God. If you try and tackle it on your own, it will twist you and tease you and pull down into a never-ending pit of despair because you are finite; you are mortal; you don’t know anything beyond your immediate circumstances, and the vampire If can make you doubt even that.
But when you submit yourself to the eternal, omnipotent, all-knowing God, the vampire If is defanged. You don’t have to worry about the future because you’re entrusting it to the One who not only knows your future but designed it. You don’t have to fear potential outcomes because you’re giving them to the One who takes what is intended for evil and works it for good.
Vampires do exist, and they certainly ain’t sparkly. But the good news is that we can overcome through God our Father.