My notes on Bite Me (2019) – out on UK platforms February 8.
An exceptionally low-key vampire movie, Bite Me is primarily an indie rom-com that sets up an obvious joke about the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) being worse bloodsuckers than actual vampires then doesn’t spring the expected punchline. It’s quirky and sweet, but rough around the edges with a tone that wavers slightly whenever it tries to tone down the self-deprecating humour – star Naomi McDougall Jones also scripted, and it feels like an extended, dramatised stand-up routine at times – and make a statement about being proud to be weird. It also has a clutch of interesting/funny supporting characters but confines them to running jokes which turn out to be repeating jokes. Nevertheless, it’s unique in its own way.
These vampires are defiantly non-supernatural, but born with a condition that requires regular consumption of donated blood or else their health deteriorates. Sarah (Jones) has made several bad decisions in her life – getting a facial tattoo at sixteen*, and then marrying the tattooist/would-be vampire king Stacz (Antonio Crowley-Kamenwati) who talked her into it being among the worst. She’s divorced and living with a couple of other single vampires – eccentric fireball Chrissy (Naomi Grossman, from American Horror Story) and Muslim Lily (Mahira Kakkar) – and their community has just been turned upside-down by Stacz going on a reality TV and outing their existence to the wider world (a promising plot thread that gets dropped). Because Chrissy has registered the House of Twilight (ie: their apartment) as a church in order to get a tax exemption, Sarah is hauled in to the IRS and entrusted to James (Christian Coulson), who has moved from the UK to NYC to get away from his smothering mother.
As James puzzles through the case, he and Sarah get together and go through a rom-com routine of break-up and reunion. The lead characters are engaging and credibly fouled-up, and you do root for them to get together even as all the people around them sort out their own lives … though it’s hard not to feel that, self-empowered weirdo and kooky role model that she is, Sarah should just pay her fucking taxes like the rest of us do and not whine about her life being wrecked simply when the bill comes due. Directed by Meredith Edwards.
*she’s so embarrassed about this that on the poster she’s turning her face away so you don’t see it (which kind of looks weird).
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