Monday, October 27, 2008

Bitten – review

logoDirected by: Harvey Glazer

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

Also known as “Lady is a Vamp” and “Twice Shy”, this aired on Sky 3 under the title Bitten and is essentially a vehicle for Jason Mewes who plays paramedic Jack. Now, a confession here – I really rate Jason Mewes, I find he has a real talent at timing an absolutely inappropriate and yet hilariously funny profanity. The movie itself has some holes and issues but its strength lies within making the most out of Mewes innate abilities.

It all begins with Jack and his partner Roger (Richard Fitzpatrick) out on a job and Jack trying to talk down a patient complaining about bugs in his brains. Unfortunately Roger had left Jack to deal with him whilst he went to the toilet – Roger has irritable bowl syndrome and this leads to a source of running gags and the character’s anal obsession. Jack’s mind is clearly not on the job and this has much to do with the fact that he has been dumped by his girlfriend Sherry (Jordan Madley) – leaving him for her yoga instructor and demanding her stuff back, including the frame of her picture.

After the attackJack lives in a not particularly nice neighbourhood. There are drug pushers, addict prostitutes and he has an on-running battle with his landlady Mrs Lee (Grace Armas) – she’ll get her rent when he gets his plumber. Coming home from working the graveyard shift, despondent at ever meeting another girl, he sees a mysterious woman (Erica Cox) covered in blood near his door. She has a bite wound but refuses to go to the hospital. He takes her in.

burning with a needOf course, the next night at work, Roger thinks he is mad, by the time Jack gets home his apartment will be cleared out. When he gets home, however, she is waiting and tells him her name is Danica. Jack goes to sleep but awakes to find her shivering and shaking. He tries to give her an aspirin but she vomits it back immediately. He calls Roger who, having checked her neck and seen two tiny track marks, declares she is a junky going through withdrawal. Jack decides he’ll watch her anyway.

eyes flash blueHe is leaving for work when Sherry turns up, demanding her stuff. He blows her off but she has a key and enters his home when he leaves. Danica confronts her and her eyes flash blue. When Jack returns from work he finds Sherry dead on the floor. He asks Danica what she did and, despite the gore and the body they start to get it on – until Danica bites him. He looks and she has fangs.

burning in the sunPulling her over to the window he exposes her arm to the sun and it starts to steam. She runs into another room and when he approaches her we see that the burn is rather nasty. Despite the fangs, the burning in sunlight and the body of his ex, Jack seems rather smitten – one of the under-currents of the story is bad relationship choices – and he admits that, for killing Sherry, he doesn’t know whether to phone the cops or buy her flowers.

tidy up your messThis was one of the film's issues, his reactions seem all over the place. Perhaps there is some obsessive need to be loved, later he confesses that he is scared someone will take her away from him, but it doesn’t necessarily feel natural – especially given his profession. On the other hand it leads to the black comedy, which is what the film is all about. He cleans the mess, that is Sherry, up and the comedy comes to the fore as, whilst bubble wrapping her, we hear a “tidy up your mess” song that appears to be straight out of Barney & Friends.

vomiting catBy the next night Danica is ill once more, the hunger is like a fire in her stomach she says. Jack tries a few methods to deal with this. The first being the old staple of providing a cat… which he has to catch first. We don’t see the feed, simply hear it, which perhaps is as well as the shock value of such a scene has diminished since Count Yorga, Vampire. We see the aftermath of throwing it up, animals are clearly no good.

biting JackHe then tries a blood pack, which he steals from work (the act of which will tweak his co-workers’ radars). She cannot drink that either – it is cold and dead. Then he offers her his arm – but it isn’t enough. Finally he succumbs and entices a drug dealer in – whom she feeds from. However the feed is violent but also clearly, for Danica, sexual – something that doesn’t impress Jack. When they go to put the body with Sherry’s (in a foot locker) Sherry revives, attacks and they have to stake her.

feeding aftermathHowever, it is the enticement of an innocent back to his appartment that finally turns Jack from Danica. Danica and Jack cannot have sex as the bite and sex are clearly connected. Instead she brings home a woman called Maya (Amy Lynn Grover) for a threesome – so she can bite Maya if it becomes too much! How does one break up with a girl when she is a vampire?

strangely not burning in the sunI mentioned that there were some issues and a couple of them are within the lore the film introduces. Early in the relationship Danica bites Jack at least twice and he doesn’t turn. Does the person have to be killed or, given that Danica wasn’t, near death to turn? The film doesn’t explain. There is also the exponential aspect of bite and turn lore – though we assume most victims are left for the sun. This is the second issue, however. We see Danica, Maya and Jack in bed and the sun moves across the room to give a sense of time elapsing… right over, a strangely not burning, Danica.

the Fearful Vampire KillersFor those looking for a complex over-arching story, you won’t find one but that isn’t what the film is about. The film is a black comedy and relies heavily on Mewes’ delivery to provide it. He doesn’t let us down. Erica Cox is sultry, mysterious and dangerous as Danica but the real revelation was Richard Fitzpatrick. He and Mewes worked well together and the banter was wonderfully natural. Fitzpatrick has a great sense of timing and some cracking lines. “That f*cking bitch has fangs and she’s angrier than my first f*cking wife.” ranks as one of the best ‘it’s a vampire’ revelation moments in a movie.

This is worthwhile for the irreverent black comedy. It is a film about relationships draining the life out of you and effecting all aspects of your life, so is cynical on all sorts of levels, and it has a dour view of society. It made great use of Mewes and I, for one, particularly enjoyed it. Just don’t expect something of epic story proportion. 6.5 out of 10.

Incidentally, do watch this through the credits as there are outtakes throughout and then, at the very end, a coda to the story.

The imdb page is here.

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