Sunday, December 08, 2019

Bite Me – review

Director: Meredith Edwards

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

Whether you believe that they are fantasists, delusional (or otherwise psychologically scarred) or actually people who need to drink blood to maintain their health, one thing we can’t deny is that there are people out there who identify as vampires.

This identification is, in my experience, problematic. For on the one hand they (or many I have had contact with) are quick to bemoan the media vampire as something they are not and a source of them being maligned because of the false idea the media vampire gives. Then, on the other hand, they like to actually take the image and traits of the media vampire (never the folklore vampire mind, taking the image of a bloated corpse isn’t on the cards) and appropriate it (and claim it). It is a little like having your cake and eat it.

Naomi McDougall Jones as Sarah
However, this film is set within the ‘real’ vampire community and thus belongs here as it concerns people who believe in vampires (albeit their version) and who act like vampires (by appropriating the romantic media vampire image and also by drinking small amounts of blood). The film, however, is sympathetic to them (I think), runs a line of comedy between them and mundanes (the term for non-vampires that perhaps indicates a narcissism) in the primary interaction and also runs on a basis that they are pretty much “in the coffin” – despite some high profile examples pitching up on TV occasionally in real life. It is also a romantic comedy.

The film begins with Sarah (Naomi McDougall Jones), in a bar. Sarah is striking with her dyed hair and facial tattoo (and the story of how that came about is part of some bittersweet character building the film enters into). There is a voice over by her where she tells us she is a vampire. Outside the bar she receives a text and a link to a video. Stacz (Antino Crowley-Kamenwati, Sam the Vamp) has been on a reality show for *freaks*, admitted to being a vampire and is getting hits on YouTube.

Antino Crowley-Kamenwati as Stacz
Sarah is Stacz ex-wife and her and her friends, Chrissy (Naomi Grossman, An Accidental Zombie (Named Ted)) and Lily (Mahira Kakkar), have left his ‘House’ and set up their own – the House of Twilight. This is barely used as a joke, which was good to see, with Lily later explaining that they sought to be more publicly visible at some point, hence in the Twilight. However Sarah does visit Stacz from time to time as, since they split eight years ago, she has not had a donor and so goes to him for his blood (which she pays for, to not be beholden to him). Sarah has registered the House of Twilight as a church with the IRS, however, and his appearance on TV has brought them into view – they are to be audited.

James, Sarah and Chrissy
The audit is to be done by James (Christian Coulson) a Brit in America, who is divorced and now shares a house with born again co-worker Faith (Annie Golden). Initially dismissive of Sarah’s claim he, after she accuses him of bigotry, agrees to sit on her case as he does a deeper investigation. Of course, the two also fall in love (hence the romantic comedy aspect). I was slightly surprised that a joke about the IRS being the real bloodsuckers was not made, but that probably shows some restraint. Rather the comedy concentrates on two very different people finding common ground, missing the boat and finally getting it together (with issues around the audit obviously playing a part).

So, you know what, for what it is I guess it is ok but I’m not a big watcher of romantic comedies (or a watcher of them at all, truth be told) so it left me a tad cold. The primary performances were really rather good with Jones and Coulson displaying a realistic chemistry and, even more so, offering their characters vulnerabilities. The vampire aspect is more like a backdrop, and actually could have been run with a variety of sub-cultures (though the alleged spiritual aspect of ‘real’ vampirism allowed the church aspect to be used and also doubted for its validity by the IRS).

But overall I felt this to be a tad thin – but that’s probably just romantic comedies for you. I’m basing the 6 out of 10 on the fact that I’m guessing fans of such films may dig it, the fact that it showed its subject respect (less so towards born-again Christianity actually, but they were in as a foil and it is nice to see that reversal of roles where the sub-culture attracts respect from the filmmaker and the dominant culture not so) and the fact that the two leads were engaging and displayed good chemistry.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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