Twilight: Alice Cullen’s Dark Backstory Explained

Ashley Greene’s quirky Alice in the Twilight series has a dark backstory — one that involves the original movie’s main villain, James.

As with every member of the troubled Cullen family, Ashley Greene’s quirky vampire Alice has a dark Twilight backstory. Beginning with  Catherine Hardwicke’s moody Twilight in 2008, the Twilight saga was an uneven set of movie adaptations that brought Stephenie Meyers’ popular paranormal romance saga of the same name to the big screen

While the Twilight movie adaptations were disowned by some of their cast and derided by critics, the movies did huge business at the box office and were beloved by their target demographic, fans of the original novels. Although the tone of the series shifted dramatically between Hardwicke’s self-serious original, the more light-hearted follow-up New Moon, and the action-oriented threequel from 30 Days of Night director David Slade, Eclipse, one thing that all the Twilight movies had in common was a struggle to compress the lengthy source novels into movies that arrived in the cineplex with reasonable runtimes.

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As a result, a lot of fan-favorite moments were cut from the Twilight movie adaptations due to their limited runtimes, with the last novel Breaking Dawn being split into two movies to ensure fans weren’t disappointed (a tactic later used by the Harry Potter series and Hobbit adaptations, with mixed results). Much of the Twilight content that fans missed out on, while fun, was largely irrelevant to the main story of the saga: the seemingly doomed romance between teen vampire Edward Cullen and small-town girl Bella Swan. However, some of the background lore removed from the Twilight movies actually formed an important bit of foreshadowing for the story’s later twists, and, as such, it’s a shame viewers didn’t get a chance to see these story details. For example, take Alice Cullen’s backstory: Like most of Twilight’s first family, Alice has a dark backstory that the Twilight movie adaptations don’t have the time to adapt to the screen, but unlike the rest of the Cullen clan, hers actually ties into the action of the first movie in the series.

Alice’s Childhood

Twilight Alice Scarf

Before becoming a vampire in her late teens, Alice was simply a small-town girl who had a gift for predicting the future. In early childhood, this seemingly harmless gift manifested in minor, possibly coincidental predictions, such as knowing the weather would be bad well before it turned. However, as Alice grew her powers grew with her, and by the time she reached her late teens, the gift of foresight meant she was cursed with foreboding visions of her mother’s impending death at the hands of a mysterious man. Alice began demanding that her mother stay home for her own safety, something that her loving mother indulged at first.

However, in another example of the Twilight franchise’s many terrible father figures (shout out to Alice’s eventual adopted father Carlisle Cullen, who suffered the same struggle), Alice’s amoral dad insisted that his wife ignore his daughter’s doomsaying and demanded that Alice keep her visions to herself or be branded insane. Unfortunately for Alice, many of her small-town neighbors and classmates also reacted poorly to her predictions, causing them to shun her and reinforcing her father’s threat. Despite Alice’s mother doing her best to heed her daughter’s advice, she eventually was driven off the road by a stranger, a tragedy whose sudden and unexpected occurrence did nothing to deter Alice’s father from remarrying almost immediately.

Alice’s Visions of the Future

Unfortunately for Alice, the visions of her mother’s death didn’t end after her mother’s funeral. In a plot that is surprisingly similar to Gothika, an underrated Halle Berry psychological horror, Alice Cullen eventually had a vision not only of an assassin ensuring that her mother was dead after the accident but also of her father paying the unseen stranger to kill her mother. Naturally, the aggrieved Alice attempted to warn her relatives, but her father beat her to their home and had the teen institutionalized so he could hold onto his dark secret. Undergoing traumatic electroshock therapy, Alice lost her memories of her dark early life and gained the happy-go-lucky demeanor she has throughout the Twilight series, immortalized in the movie adaptations by Ashley Greene’s quirky take on the part.

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Twilight’s Villain James

In the asylum, Alice was befriended by a benevolent vampire who took her under his wing and nurtured her talent for foresight. But things wouldn’t stay stable for long, as this was the point of her backstory where Alice’s tale intersects with that of Twilight’s heroine, Bella Swan. The inmate soon started to see visions of Twilight’s villain James hunting her and her mentor down, and her vampire mentor was smart enough to take her at her word as he was aware her foresight wouldn’t lie. Knowing that he couldn’t take down a hunter as powerful as James on his own, Alice’s mentor turned Alice into a vampire and left her to recover as he sacrificed himself to give her time to escape James’ clutches.

Alice Meets Jasper Cullen

Waking alone and with no memory of her mentor (but safe from James’s clutches, for now), Alice soon saw visions of herself with her eventual mate Jasper Cullen. Learning to trust her predictions of the future, she sought out the kindly vampire. When the pair met it was thanks to one of Alice’s visions, and Alice began a courtship with Jasper Cullen that ended in Alice becoming a member of his and Edward’s family.

How Alice’s Backstory Affects Twilight

Twilight James Laurent Victoria coven

Unlike many of the franchise’s backstories, Alice’s has a direct effect on the action of 2008’s Twilight, as the primary antagonist James is first established as a ruthless hunter and unstoppable villain during his pursuit of Alice. James doesn’t get a lot of space to act intimidating in the movie adaptation of Twilight, and although Hardwicke’s movie does attempt to make him touch more threatening by adding in a scene where his gang kills a local, it’s not as effective as the novel’s choice to tie James into Alice’s backstory. Having James murder a character so close to a main character’s heart is far more effective than the Twilight movie adaptation’s clumsy, shoehorned-in murder scene, and as such it’s a shame that Alice Cullen’s missing backstory never made it to the big screen.

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