Film Reviews

Bit: Comedic Vampiric Feminist Film

Bit is an indie vampire movie that I found on Tubi recently. It was initially released at the Inside Out 2019 Toronto LGBT Film Festival then in the spring of 2020. It was marketed as a teen thriller but it is more of a vampire movie with some comedy. Bit has a strong feminist theme throughout the film that shapes the characteristics of the vampires in the film.

Bit is about a transgender teenaged girl, Laurel, who travels to Los Angeles to visit her brother, Mark, for a summer vacation after graduation. Laurel and Mark go to an underground nightclub where Laurel was separated from her brother when she bumps into an alluring young woman, Izzy. She allures Laurel to another underground club to spend extra time with Laurel on the rooftop. She bites Laurel but was interrupted by the head vampire Duke preventing her death and initiating her turn into a vampire. The vampire nest Laurel joins is a set of queer feminist vampires. They have two rules: not to turn men into vampires because in their perspective they can not handle power and not to glamour other vampires. Laurel embraces her new vampiric powers and becomes interested in hanging out with her new friends exclusively. The group hunts on predatory men and people exhibiting toxic masculinity (according to them) for blood. They occasionally hunt stranded women in downtown LA for blood, too.

Screenshot from Bit (2019). The vampires are inviting Laurel to hang out with her brother questioning their motives in sleepwear.

There are some changes to the vampire lore that this film has. The vampires drink blood and can fly. They can only be killed with fire and not by stakes. They don’t sleep in coffins. But they can walk around in daylight. Their fangs have a sound effect that is a little unnecessary but the teeth retracting to bit others is very prominent. This film is different in the modern way how it shows that people would miss the protagonist if she disappears in the vampire nest with a worried and annoyed brother, worried parents and a depressed boyfriend. The vampire kills are surprisingly a lot but only occurs in some sections of the film. They are few and far between but there is biting vampire thrashing in this vampire film.

The themes of power equality are the main focus of the film. When Duke explains who she was before she turned into a vampire she also explains how power corrupts especially in her perspective men. The vampires mock and tease men while hunting them down. The talking characters discuss what they define as leadership and should be the most powerful while pointing out faults in only one person can be in charge of everyone’s life no matter what. Also, pay attention to how often the background characters talk and express opinions and how minuscule time they talk throughout the film. Initial or not, it can be effective minimalism but I rather have all of them express more that what was seen.

This film is not much of a comedy. I wouldn’t consider this film a funny movie because it barely has setups to jokes, light-heartedness, slapstick or goofiness. What this film has is satire which is a type of comedy; just not always a “ha-ha” type comedy.

Screenshot from Bit (2019). Laurel losing some teeth after being bit.

The lead character Laurel is played by Nicole Maines. This film is possibly her first leading role in a feature film. Laurel is a young woman who went through a lot in her short life. In the first half of the film, the upper class Oregon community she comes from seems very supportive and proud of her. The character seems disconnected but not much planned after high school which are no university programs scheduled or employment. Her temperament is a chill cool girl but not so much relaxed. She seems like she is on edge for most of the film. For someone turning into a vampire, she does not have that much urgency to know the full grasp of vampire life. She pretty much eagerly accepts the life before questioning anything with no sense of need in the character for two-thirds of the film. But the character does change from a person into a meaner aggressive vampire but to a small degree.

The sister-brother relationship that Laurel has with Mark was great to see. Mark in this film seems like Laurel’s branch to the outside world away from the vampire nest and her past. He has states of worry and anger but not consistently.

The lead vampire, Duke, is a cool aggressive feminist lesbian vampire. She has a long backstory about how she came into her own. The backstory was fitting to how they modernized the vampire starting the story in the 1960s during the sexual revolution era. But I feel that it should of went back further to the suffragette movement. It would have been more fitting. As the leader of the vampires, she is very strict about the “no boys allowed” rule. The character portrays a mixture of rebelliousness, controlling manipulative behaviour and being perceptive. She is a strong female character but never really over shows the main character in strength.

Screenshot from Bit (2019). Duke teaches Laurel to fly with her vampire powers.

The special effects are standard but better than expected from an independent film. The blood isn’t bright orange or water dark red. The green screen effects when Duke and Laurel were flying were okay. It didn’t account for shadows and the night sky but is okay in the sense that it didn’t show a green screen blur and incorporated the elements without looking goofy. Some of the effects look like practical effects which look better than fully CGI.

It’s not the greatest vampire film ever made, it’s actually one of the most okay-est vampire films made. The effects were okay, the vampire violence was okay and the motives and backstories of the vampires were just okay. At most the differing factors that make the movie stand out are the underlying story of the main character and the feminist themes. I would recommend it for people into vampire flicks as something a little different.

Genre: Horror/Comedy
Year: 2019
Duration: 90 minutes

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Two and a half out of five stars

All screenshots are from the film
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