Bit (2020)

After watching the retro erotic thriller The Voyeurs and the teen vampire wish-fulfiller Bit in the same week, I’m starting to come to terms with the terrifying reality that the house style of The CW has become one of the major cinematic influences of our time.  The channel’s decades of flat digi cinematography and robotic line deliveries from an endless parade of hard-bodied hotties has now seeped out into the wider cinematic bloodstream, so that all low-to-mid-budget #content aimed at youngsters looks like an unaired pilot for a CW series.  Let’s call Bit the modern successor of shows like Buffy & Charmed, a gothy but harmless horror primer for teens turned off by the macho gatekeeper end of the genre (slightly retooled for a post-Riverdale world).  It even opens with a affectionate potshot at the Twilight saga, which very well might be the birthplace of the CW’s unholy stylistic reign on the big screen.  It’s all very cheap but cute, making up for what it lacks in momentum, tension, and scares with a gothy wish-fulfilment sense of cool.

A trans teen vacationing in Los Angeles is inducted into a hipster lesbian vampire coven who target male predators around the city.  She occasionally feels remorse over abandoning her family & friends for this new social circle (self-described as “Bite Club”) and reluctance to drink blood to sustain herself, but for the most part everything’s safe & comfortable.  At its core, this is a teenage fantasy about a small-town outsider who finds her all-accepting, empowering clique in the big city.  Our bloodsucking heroine repeatedly muses that “This feels like a movie,” or “My life’s like a horror movie,” to point out the daydream happenstance of her stumbling into a feminist vampire collective her very first night in L.A.  Her vampire elders offer her a tantalizing power fantasy in “a world where every woman is a vampire” and “men are the ones who are afraid to fucking jot at night.”  There’s some infighting about how the coven’s No-Boys-Allowed policy applies to her brother, some changeups in local leadership, and a few run-ins with vampire-hunting MRAs, but that’s not really what excites Bite or its baby-goth target audience.  The film is much more wrapped up in its venting-into-the-void misandry, chaste lesbian make-outs, and trips to see The Death Valley Girls live in concert.  It’s a hangout film for the teenage horror nerd set who grew up watching a certain broadcast-television station and are now ready to see its programming aged up with some swearing & gore.

Despite its on-the-surface feminist politics, Bit is more adorable than it is searing or provocative.  I would’ve enjoyed it best in high school, but I happened to grow up with The Craft instead.  I can’t say with any authority that The Craft is necessarily any better than Bit in terms of its . . . craft, no more than the generations before me could say the same about The Lost Boys or, I dunno, I Was a Teenage Werewolf.  Each generation deserves their own teen-goth induction ceremony movie, and this entry in that canon just happens to be aimed at kids young enough to appreciate an off-handed Cheetah Girls reference. 

-Brandon Ledet

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