When fans reminisce about the best Twilight characters, they usually go for the jugular with Edward, back underdog Bella, or declare they’re abs-solutely ‘Team Jacob’. But what if the coolest mythical creature in the franchise is actually one of the background players with a resting bitchface?
Rosalie, Edward’s often rude and intense sister, is the crème de la crème. And it’s not just about her iconic dinner tantrum, her ability to make even Edward look excitable, or how she tries to squirm her way out of protecting Bella in the first Twilight movies. No, it’s the fact she’s allowed to be abrasive and mean, and turned the franchise into a full-blown horror in the best scene from Twilight Eclipse.
When we first meet Rosalie, we’re introduced to the sorority sister from hell. She has the vibe of a negligent elder sibling, a family member’s girlfriend you suspect might be an alien, or that cool girl from school who was simultaneously intimidating and a loner.
Edward, after inviting Bella to the Cullen home, leads her up to the kitchen, where the hottest parents who ever ceased to live are preparing dinner. Whining about having to help make an Italian meal for a girl who “isn’t even Italian”, she then crushes a salad bowl in her bare hands when Edward says his guest has already eaten.
We soon know a few things about Rosalie, and we learn them in a relatively short time. Her default state is irritation; she doesn’t like new people and is pissed off about her family’s hiding that they’re vampires.
It takes a couple more movies for Rosalie to receive more depth, and she warms up to Bella slowly in the meantime. It’s in Eclipse that we’re treated to Twilight’s most horror-adjacent scene and an expansion of her character that made her a firm favourite, providing a new reading on her quirks.
While Rosalie brings joy to those of us who enjoy a bit of camp flair, the reality of her backstory is grisly, as Bella finds out after asking Rosalie why she’s offended by her desire to become a bloodsucker — Rosalie did not relish losing her mortality. She also tells Bella she doesn’t particularly like her, but that was mostly shade and has nothing to do with the exposition we receive — more on Rosalie’s aptitude for a Real Housewives casting later.
Setting the scene with blunt yet melodramatic storytelling panache, Rosalie explains how she became a creature of the night. We’re whisked back to 1933 for a sequence that acts like a brisk one-shot and initially shows a chipper past version of her living her dream.
But Royce King, more of a drunken thug than the eligible bachelor she wanted him to be, assaults human Rosalie with a group of friends, leaving her for dead on the street. Carlisle gives her a new lease on life, and she knows just what to do with it.
For vampire movies, we often approach with a hefty dose of irony and plenty of giggles. This foray into darkness takes a sharp left. Eclipse communicates the assault, skirting around its PG-13 rating, but, importantly, assigns agency to our favourite blonde emotional terrorist in the wake of her victimisation.
It also explains her behaviour and, quite frankly, gives her licence in the eyes of the fans to continue being her best cold and decisive self. While rape-revenge, a divisive genre unto itself, is not new to cinema, it hadn’t been done like this in a tween fantasy movie with campy flair.
Rosalie recounts how she hunted down her attackers, one by one, patiently enough so that by the time she got to her ex-husband, he’d know she was coming.
In the past, we’re shown the man, nerves shot, holed up on the floor, and banging can be heard outside his door. Howard Shore’s magnificent score (one of many all-time greats who somehow ended up working on Twilight) gets noisy, and a sweaty Royce grips a knife for dear life. A terrific thing about the short time in this room with her last victim is how it provides clear context with no need for dialogue: his clothes are strewn, his hair a mess, and bottles scatter the floor.
This creates a picture of a man who’s paranoid and anxiety-ridden and has come to the last hiding place he can think of to meet his inevitable demise. Dutch angles, close-ups with incremental zooms, and sounds from beyond his room create a delirious atmosphere. And yet, it’s so much fun because he deserves it!
A juiced-up newborn Rosalie bursts in, wedding dress and all, and a grin lights up her paper-white face and red eyes in one of the most unsettling yet amusing shots from the franchise. Editor Nancy Richardson cuts away at the instant the corners of her mouth turn up, so we’re left to imagine what came next.
It’s this strange space between sadistic and gratifying that makes it so exciting. It’s as if we’ve been attuned to the high Rosalie feels. In those moments, Twilight is unnerving in a thrilling, satisfying way.
In the present, Nikki Reed concludes the scene with a devilish grin and perhaps the best line of dialogue to grace the Twilight canon: “I was a little theatrical back then.”
Twilight is often criticised by fans for focusing on its least interesting characters, and this indulgent change of pace is proof of that. Eclipse switches lanes from a love triangle romance movie to something entirely unhinged, then reverts back after to continue its (admittedly enjoyable) nonsense.
If you happen to be holding an uninterested party hostage for your viewing party, this may be the moment they step into a what-the-fuck trance and get involved for a few sweet minutes.
For more sparkly immortals, find out why the Twilight ending is one of the best movie twists ever, dig into the Twilight TV series release date, or find out about the best movies of all time, which may or may not snub this franchise.