25th Jul2019

Outfest 2019: ‘Bit’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Char Diaz, Diana Hopper, Friday Chamberlain, Greg Hill, James Paxton, M.C. Gainey, Nicole Maines, Zolee Griggs | Written and Directed by Brad Michael Elmore

Bit-poster

Possibly the most generic, unexciting name for a vampire movie, I didn’t have high hopes for Bit. But it has so much good going for it that I can definitely forgive its three lettered title.

Bit shows the very feminist story of a transgender woman, Laurel (Nicole Maines) leaving home for the summer and moving in with her brother in L.A. On her first night there, she goes to a club and meets Izzy (Zolee Griggs), who quickly turns her into a vampire and soon after she joins her group of vampires. We soon learn that these (now) five vampires have a rule that they don’t turn men. The ‘lead’ vampire Duke (Diana Hopper) exclaims that she “dreams of a world where all women are vampires. And men are the ones scared to go for a jog at night”. Lines like that and other moments make this an interesting take on the vampire film.

Lead actress Nicole Maines is a transgender woman herself and has a fascinating and powerful story of her own (have a quick google). She’s great in the role, looking, at times, very much like Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones but having a much more innocent character. The story of her not really wanting to be a vampire or to kill people, isn’t necessarily a new one but it’s done in an intriguing enough way that I didn’t feel like I had seen all this before. She is at a best in the most emotionally charged scenes, my favourite being in an argument with her brother (played by James Paxton). The two show some good chemistry throughout and Paxton is also great in the scene that throws up a couple of surprises.

The other stand-out performance comes from Diana Hopper. Her character Duke appears in the first few minutes of the movie and oozes charisma. It’s a great first scene and had me smiling from ear to ear, setting the tone for the next ninety minutes. Duke is like Buffy if she was vampire,not a vampire slayer and Hopper throws the odd one liner out while still being tough enough to know she means business.

Speaking of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it seems a very obvious and deliberate influence on Bit and its director (with a dash of The Craft thrown in). This is of course no bad thing. My favourite TV show ever (and many other peoples), it feels like we’ve never really had anything like it since. Well Bit isn’t a carbon copy but it has plenty of nice nods to the show and fans of it will definitely enjoy this.

There’s only about ten minutes or so in the middle third where it seemed to be meandering a little but things soon pick up and the rest of the movie will have you gripped. There’s a shock or two which I didn’t see coming at all and one glorious moment of gore but it’s not all about that and fight scenes. This is much more about Laurel’s story and the people around her. Something many people I’m sure can relate to.

There are quite a few films that could be held under the ‘feminist horror’ banner but none that feel quite as current and interesting as Bit does now. Representing the LGBT community is clearly a big part of Bit but it never feels like it is just shoving things down your throat and is done in what feels like a very sincere way. Bit is a fantastic edition to the vampire sub-genre and will hopefully influence plenty of great films in the future.

**** 4/5

Bit screens tomorrow, Friday July 26th, at the TCL Chinese Theatre as part of Outfest 2019.

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