As much as we think we’re different from one another, we’re all really just after the same things: to be seen, heard, and loved for who we really are.
If you’ve been attending screenings at the Cinequest film festival this March, you may have been passed a pair of plastic vampire fangs and informed about a memorable movie among the festival’s offerings this year. Such encounters are director Meredith Edwards and the rest of her crew bent on the task of converting moviegoers into vampires—and fans of their film, Bite Me.
Bite Me is “a subversive romantic comedy about a real-life vampire and the IRS agent who audits her.” Living up to its logline, it delivers originality to the age-old tale of boy-meets-girl. “[We want] to re-vamp the rom-com genre with a fresh, fun, and feminist energy while keeping the bones of the classic structure that we all know so well and miss so much,” Meredith says.
With a taste for mundane situational humor (like The Office) and bizarre humor (like The Eric Andre Show), the director of Bite Me contributes distinct flavor to her comedy. Elaborating on her comical preferences, she references a favorite pastime shared with a close friend: swapping melodramatic dares “to do or say really outlandish things at too-cool-for-school bars in New York.” Around Halloween-time, she fondly remembers one of them grabbing a pumpkin off the mantle and head banging ferociously into it, while the other asked a group (attempting a lowkey happy hour) if they’d ever heard of “The Smashing Pumpkins.”
That gleeful absurdity filters into the movie, most prominently through character-centric humor. Bite Me takes big personalities with contrasting motivations—then thoroughly enjoys itself bouncing them off each other.
The whole cast embraces these cultural clashes in their character portrayals, but, as it should be, the two leads shine brightest. Actress Naomi McDougall Jones owns the dynamic part of Sarah, a girl wrestling with insecurities despite her fierce tribal face tattoo and ink blue hair. As not only the main actress, but the story’s scriptwriter, Naomi is intimately attuned with the role’s nuances. By first breathing life into the lines of the character, then breathing as the character herself, Naomi emotes Sarah’s reactions with convincing authority.
Then there’s James, a guy who’s drowning in his bland day job and button-up shirts. Played by Christian Coulson, the character exudes the charm of a young Hugh Grant (complete with affable witticisms, entertaining reactions, and, of course, pleasing British accent). It’s quite the divergence from Christian’s past part as the sinister Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
But those contrasting lifestyles are played for more than just laughs. It’s also meant to encourage open-mindedness. “As much as we think we’re different from one another, we’re all really just after the same things,” Meredith notes, “to be seen, heard, and loved for who we really are.” Like the growing connection between an unassuming IRS agent and an outspoken vampire, Bite Me is an entertaining exercise in finding mutual ground.
Screening Sunday, March 17th at 10:45AM at Century 20 Redwood City
For tickets, check out the Cinequest website.
Written by Johanna Hickle