Saturday, March 5, 2022

HOTCHKA Movie Review: Bite Me

© Adventure Kid/Blue Firefly Films

Bite Me attempts to combine a rom-com with an unsubtle metaphor

by Jeremy Fogelman

Cast: Naomi McDougall Jones, Christian Coulson, Naomi Grossman, Annie Golden
Rating: ★

It’s funny that I was recently thinking about how common rom-com movies are without any originality when this movie comes along, which is theoretically very original -- even if the underlying unoriginal concept is simply a “two different types attract” tale that happens to be about a very odd, based on the real world, concept.

Bite Me comes from director Meredith Edwards and writer Naomi McDougall Jones, who also stars in the movie as Sarah, a so-called “real life vampire”. These unusual folk are not supernatural nor do they claim to be, they are based on a real set of people who believe that they require regular blood drinking to maintain their “energy” or similar concepts that are not medically validated.

Sarah is a particularly strident, self-assured version of this sort, but her annoyances really come out when fellow local vampire Stacz (Antino Crowley-Kamenwati) outs himself on a reality show about “freaks”. Suddenly everyone is staring at Sarah as she walks down the street as a “freak” although I don't know how they’d know -- her green hair? Her tribal tattoo on her face? None of those things mean “vampire”, but part of the problem that this movie has is an issue with its metaphor.

We run into some other vamps, including also annoying Chrissy (Naomi Grossman) and hijab-wearing Lily (Mahira Kakkar), who all commiserate how absolutely hard it is to be vampires with their questionable “medical” condition. Lily talks about how it’s unfair not to treat her as a Muslim simply because she’s a vampire, even though it is absolutely not permitted -- a blood infusion, that’s a different matter, but all these people are feeding off of each other because it’s all about “energy”.

© Adventure Kid/Blue Firefly Films

This is all well and good (if internally inconsistent in its logic) but the real story comes when the IRS has decided to audit their “church” because, well, it’s not a real religious organization! And nothing the movie manages is able to convince otherwise, not the tiny amount of congregants (fewer than twenty) or the fact that they claim it’s a medical condition and not a religion (Lily claims to be a Muslim, after all).

Sparks of a sort fly when Sarah meets IRS agent James (Christian Coulson), a sort of charming British dude, who is legitimately intrigued by Sarah and her bizarre lifestyle. The two start a sort of odd "will they won’t they" of a kind, which is pushed back by her vampy friends that claim that a “mundane” (eye roll) and a vampire can never be a couple. James has a kind of nerdy, pleasant energy, and Sarah eventually becomes a bit more layered and considered.

Ultimately it all comes to a stupendously stupid confrontation where they seem to simply be saying, hey, we’re all freaks one way or another, aren’t we? So why judge? Well, I don’t judge the vampires’ fake psychosomatic condition nor their ill-considered fake religion because they don’t seem to be hurting anyone. And I worry that their metaphor might be so broad as to be considered offensive in some ways.

My issues with the story and metaphor aside, the movie is competently made -- there is an indie feeling to some of the acting, some of which are so over the top as to be parodic, or so muted as to feel forgettable. But from a visual and editing perspective, it isn’t poorly made -- it’s really the underlying odd story that I really doubt anyone will truly enjoy.

Bite Me has a run time of 1 hour 23 minutes and is not rated.

Get it on Apple TV

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