Ten years ago, in November 2008, one film took the world (but mostly teenage girls) by storm and left everyone asking each other one loaded question: Team Edward or Team Jacob? “Twilight” received an unprecedented amount of success that still holds firm today, and it set off a chain reaction of other young adult books getting their own film adaptations, including the upcoming “Hush Hush.”
However, no other young adult (YA) film franchise left behind as strong an impression on pop culture as “Twilight,” and as of late, the success of YA films has been on the decline, particularly supernatural romances. The movies adaptations of “Fallen,” “Beautiful Creatures” and “Vampire Academy” all fell flat in terms of financial profits. Could one film be all it takes to revive the genre?
“Hush Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick was one of the many books released shortly after “Twilight” came out that was clearly trying to leech off its success and the attention it brought to young adult literature. Fitzpatrick’s novel was a huge success with its target audience and went on to spawn three sequels.
Surprisingly, “Hush Hush” wasn’t made into a film sooner; the film only recently signed on Kellie Cyrus as director. She is known for her work on the successful supernatural teen shows “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals.” This experience gives her a promising start, as she is familiar with this particular genre and its target demographic.
Much like “Twilight,” “Hush Hush” features an immortal supernatural guy (Patch) who falls for a vulnerable and not-so-special teenage girl (Nora). They meet in biology class, and although Patch is mean to Nora, she can’t help but be drawn to his dark sexiness. But here’s the twist: the guy’s an angel this time, not a vampire.
Despite the clear “Twilight” similarities, “Hush Hush” is still capable of standing on its own. This is because it has a stronger plot than its vampiric predecessor. The antagonists in the novel are more well developed and have more interactions with the protagonists, rather than being a distant menace that they only meet near the end of the novel.
The mythology in “Hush Hush” is one that has not seen much success in mainstream cinema. Angels have long been ignored in favor of other supernatural creatures such as werewolves, vampires and witches. This gives “Hush Hush” the ability to stand out amongst other YA romance films.
“Hush Hush” also has more intrigue than “Twilight.” It is shrouded in mystery from the beginning, with Nora’s father having been murdered some time before the start of the book and Patch clearly hiding more than just his supernatural identity.
Still, the plot was not the biggest component of “Twilight’s” success. Edward and Bella had everyone invested in the storyline because fans loved them as a couple. If “Hush Hush” hopes to have this level of impact, Patch and Nora need to be able to measure up.
As someone that read and enjoyed both novels as a teenager, I can easily say the respective couples each have their share of cutesy moments to make an adolescent girl feel all gooey inside. A dark and broody guy softening up for only one girl really works romantically for many teens, as shown by the popularity of the recent movie “The Kissing Booth.”
However, these types of relationships truly only strike a chord with audiences when there is chemistry between the leads. “Twilight” actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart clearly had chemistry with one another, as they wound up dating in real life.
“Hush Hush” casting the right actors in the roles of Patch and Nora could make or break the film, as a good deal of the novel’s best moments rely on romance. Really, this is the only casting choice that matters for the movie. The other characters in the novel either play very minor roles or are unlikeable and irrelevant to readers, like Nora’s best friend, Vee.
In fact, the movie adaptation should work to improve upon the book’s flaws. Vee is extremely irritating in the novel, never listening to what Nora says and generally setting a lot of negative events into motion. While the movie can’t exactly change key plot points that she is involved with, it could work to make her character more sympathetic in order to make her actions more justifiable.
On more than one occasion, “Hush Hush” hints at Vee’s body being curvier than most, even going as far as having one character harass her about her weight. She often throws herself at men very easily, ignoring how uncomfortable it makes Nora.
Although Vee comes off as confident, her irritating behavior can be vindicated by connecting it to her body insecurities and portraying her confidence as a façade. This would be a very relatable take on her character, especially for a sympathetic adolescent female target audience, who are known for their struggles with self-confidence.
The pacing of the film is also critical. The novel itself sits just under 400 pages, but it feels even shorter when you read it. This is because it does not linger on moments that do not include Patch and Nora. Fitzpatrick was obviously well aware that the couple is the audience’s main motivation for reading.
Taking a similar approach would be very wise for the movie. Many other young adult films have seemed overly long despite short running times because they took themselves too seriously and attempted to give the plot more importance than it had in the source material. In “Hush Hush,” the romance should drive the plot, not the other way around.
Are there better young adult novels that deserve film adaptations out there? Absolutely. But many of them do not seem as poised for success as “Hush Hush” is because of its many commonalities with uber-triumphant “Twilight.”
Although I have outgrown the intended audience for this movie, I’ve been looking for another film franchise to consume my life the way “Twilight” did. Hopefully, “Hush Hush” will be what I — and many others — have been waiting for.