New Moon.I have taken, but not inhaled.

This is not a movie review. I am not qualified to write a review on New Moon, which I saw at the stroke of midnight in one of two packed screens at my local quadplex. The reason I say I’m not qualified is that I haven’t read any of the books, and I think it’s clear that one must have done so to ‘get it’; that is, to truly devour, in the manner of those around me, this film and everything to do with the franchise.

I did enjoy myself at New Moon. But it wasn’t so much the movie itself, with its soap opera characters and light-romantic-comedy jokes and unconvincing CGI and unceasing score and exhaustingly protracted close-ups and mediocre character development and Days Of Our Lives ending. It was the sheer weight of expectation, and energy, and involvement with the story that the audience sitting around me had from the beginning.

Even outside, as we waited from 11:15pm in a winding queue of Twilight devotees to get into the cinema for the midnight showing, the excitement of the crowd was palpable. And the minute Edward appeared on-screen, jacket flowing… forget about it. The smallest, lamest visual joke (like a male character shedding a tear at a classroom screening of Romeo & Juliet) sent this enchanted flock into hysterical laughter, as though Mitch Hedberg had suddenly walked onstage and given a rapid-fire string of hilarious non sequiturs. It was an inside joke, surely? No, it was just sheer, utter adoration from a massive gaggle of girls and their entertained boyfriends and husbands.

I whispered to my wife Melissa, “This is like being in Jonestown.” She giggled quietly at the reference; she is fully aware of how insane her attachment to this tale is, and that of her fellow Kool-Aid drinkers. I glanced around at the half-smiles, wistful stares and slow movements of the horde. What a film.

For me personally, it’s all a little too ‘PG-13′ to be really interesting. I mean, we’re dealing with blood-craving, horny, lethal vampires, brawny, hormonal, vicious werewolves and a beautiful, nubile seventeen year-old woman! Unlike True Blood, the Twilight series does not delve terribly deeply into its characters’ darker sides, their sexuality, their inherent recent adulthood. It’s as though there are glass doors separating the story from many of its natural elements.

This only made sense when Melissa informed me that the author is a Mormon, a graduate of her church’s Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. It explained why the story is so neutered, why the exploration of the themes are diluted and immature. And while I can instantly see why 13 year-old girls would find the material compelling, it doesn’t help me understand the devotion of this vast army of sophisticated adults. (Maybe a cleaving to innocence, even in relation to such potentially dark material?)

In any case, whatever Stephanie Meyer, or Catherine Hardwicke, or Summit Entertainment are doing, they’ve clearly hit upon a geyser of responsiveness to the story they’re telling in Twilight and New Moon, and, however it works, I’m sure they’ll keep doing it.

I didn’t hate it, and maybe I just need to read the books. But I think, given a choice between the two, I’d drink True Blood instead of Twilight Kool-Aid.