Bitten (2008)

JUNE 29, 2010


Knowing that I was about to subject myself to another faux vampire movie in the form of Eclipse, I was happy to find Bitten in my pile of screeners, as I figured if nothing else it would deliver on the title and show some fangs doing their thing, whereas Pattinson and co. would just sparkle and mope their way through another non-violent adventure. Oddly enough, in addition to the hoped-for bloodsucking (and lots of it!), it ironically offered a sort of romance as well, giving us a look at what an actual human/vampire couple would have to deal with, as opposed to, you know, fighting werewolves and playing baseball when it rains.

The setup is sort of genius, and I can’t believe I haven’t seen it before: a vampire falls in love with a night worker (in this case a paramedic), which presents a strain on their relationship - he’s at work during the only time she can go outside. But on the flipside, he already keeps his apartment dark during the day so he can sleep, making it an easy fit for her. I actually wish this was the focus of the movie, instead of a more generic “Guy is at first intrigued by his new vampire girlfriend but ultimately realizes how wrong it is and tries to end it” 2nd and 3rd act, but maybe someone can still make that “wants vs. needs” romantic vampire drama someday.

But even though it doesn’t really go into under-explored territory, it’s still pretty amusing, thanks to an always entertaining Jason Mewes (as the least likely paramedic ever, but that’s OK) and his frequent exchanges with his older partner, played by Richard Fitzpatrick. Again I sort of wish they had been a little more clever and simply let the guy know right from the start that she was a vampire, instead of hiding it from him (he finds out near the end in yet another largely standard moment), but it’s still sort of charming to hear them talk about women in a “can’t live with em, can’t live without em” way when the woman in question is a vampire.

In fact, anything to the script that could limit the number of F-bombs would be a good thing. I’m sure the always colorful Mewes threw a few in himself, but all three characters drop it in just about every line they have. Sometimes it pays off with a great line (“It’s like I want to fuck you and eat you at the same time!” she says to him after trying to bite him during sex), but for the most part it just sounds childish, as if written by someone who just discovered the word. And this is coming from me, a man who has been scolded by everyone from his mother to a waitress at Denny’s to Tom Atkins about his foul language.

There are also a few too many attempts at sitcom-y humor, most of which never pays off. Early on, Mewes is admonished by a convenience store clerk for messing up his just-mopped floor, and they have a big goofy argument, shot in zooms and close-ups. And over not one but TWO scenes of him trying to hide evidence, we hear a Sesame Street-level song about “cleaning up your mess” (once was way more than enough). I also never quite got why the days of the week were written in Spanish, accompanied by Mariachi incidental music. All of the characters are Caucasian, and the film was shot in Canada. So: huh?

But it’s a fun flick all the same, with a decent body count and even some genuine pathos near the end when Mewes realizes that he has to break up with her. You feel for the guy - he’s a paramedic who has to keep reviving junkies and other lowlifes; giving up his life for people that don’t appreciate theirs. And along comes a girl who has her own backwards lifestyle, so it should be an oddly perfect match, but it can’t work out. And again, with Twilight on my mind, I can’t help but feel like this is the only decent vampire movie I’m going to see this week, so that it actually had what felt like a genuine doomed relationship (as opposed to the hopelessly inert and forced one of the Twi-films) made it seem all the more enjoyable; I almost wish I had saved it for after Eclipse so I could sort of “rinse” myself with it. But hey, maybe Eclipse won’t be so bad after all, and I’ll have a nice back to back vampire double feature.

(Yeah, right.)

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