Another DVD, another rather disappointing vampire flick. So, of all the mediocre vampire films out there, why did I pick this straight-to-DVD masterpiece? Well, the premise sounded interesting… … … and terribly familiar:
A young attractive vampire girl gets hurt and – although suffering from amnesia – instinctively refuses to go to hospital. So the male lead – equally unaware of her condition – offers to take her home and nurse her back to health.
Coincidentally (or not?), this is not only the premise of Bitten, but also the premise of 2001’s She Lives by Night, a film I reviewed earlier. And since the latter had a number of shortcomings, I thought I might just as well see what the makers of Bitten wrought out of that very same premise.
Starring Jason Mewes (the “Jay” from Jay and Silent Bob, who also appears in Netherbeast Incorporated), Bitten has a cast that delivers solid performances in both the leading as well as the supporting roles. You have no problem buying Jason Mewes and Richard Fitzpatrick as disillusioned nightshift paramedics, although the latter’s obsession with all things sexual is exaggerated by the writers beyond the level of plausibility.
Erica Cox is good as the mysterious Danika, but would have needed more directing in a few scenes. And as Danika (re)discovers her vampire identity much sooner than her counterpart in She Lives by Night, Erica Cox is given no room for displaying the many facets of identity crisis unlike Liliana Cabal in that other film.
Apart from that, Bitten is mainly plagued by the problem that the tone is all over the place: starting as a gritty reality piece, it quickly descends into a sort of relationship drama via short stops at rather slapsticky horror comedy and some unconvincing eroticism. At the end of the film we are back to a comedy and horror combo.
I think the producers knew they had a mess on their hands, and threw in some more weirdness for good measure during the editing: each day is introduced by a black screen with the name of the day written on it – in Spanish!? “Martes”, “Miércoles”, etc., each time supported by a short combination of “Mexican” chords on a guitar. No reason for any of that; there is no Mexican or even South-Western theme anywhere in the film.
On my DVD (UK edition), the opening credits are done entirely in a style mimicking a 1950s Western: the fonts are that of the clichéd old West; add to that the sound of a film reel, accompanied by the flickering and dust specks of projected film; the music in the background is something you would expect from a film about the US Cavalry, and we see the shadows of cartoon horses and cowboys repeatedly crossing through the (entirely red) background screen of the opening credits, complete with neighing and the sound of galloping hoofs. Also: the sound of revolvers while phantom bullets rip holes through the screen.
Anyone care to explain any of this to me?
The film is neither funny nor cultish nor clever enough to get away with that kind of weirdness.
Still, since it offers at least some entertainment, Bitten is slightly more watchable than She Lives by Night, although I would argue that the latter was more ambitious and was made by people who actually tried (but largely failed) to create a serious and intriguing vampire film. With Bitten, no-one (except the actors) ever tried – they just threw comedy, gore and sex into a blender and poured the result into DVD cases.
Imdb lists 89 minutes as this film’s running time. However, if you exclude the opening credits as well as the end credits (which include goofy outtakes, some of which look staged), but add this film’s post-credit scene, the net running time of the narrative is barely 80 minutes.
All-in-all, Bitten is a film that you may choose to watch for a bit if you happen to come across it on TV, but not something anyone should deliberately spend time and money on. Imdb’s current 5.2 rating seems generous. For me this is barely a 5, more like a 4.5 out of 10.