2009 Dark Comedy/Horror

STARRING Jason Mewes, Richard Fitzpatrick, Erica Cox.

WRITTEN BY Tim McGregor and Tyler Levine

DIRECTED BY Harvey Glazer

It’s quite unfortunate that such an original deconstruction of the genre comes smack-dab in the middle of the Twilight/True Bloodvampire renaissance – seems that every week a new vampire project is announced to cash in on the attention given to the aforementioned. Had the film been given stronger legs it would’ve walked tall besides those, but the circumstances simply highlight its flaws which makes the actual strengths forgettable.

The set-up, reminiscent in tone and style to Scorcese’s Bringing Out the Dead (though nowhere as powerful) sees generically-named “Jack” the paramedic overcome heartbreak and depression when finding a too-cute-to-be-real woman unconscious and gravely injured on his doorstep. The romantic fantasy of nursing the lovely Danika back to health soon becomes nightmare when it turns out her predicament was caused by a vampire’s bite. Jack’s feelings for his new love are stretched to no end when her hunger forces him towards the unthinkable.

Fortunately for the film, there’s no like-diamonds-in-the-sun aspect to its bloodsucker (GOD I hate Twilight…), instead presenting a classic kind of vampire but as she deals with discovering for herself what she is. The soundtrack to back up the black humor of it all is of a quality too rarely seen in such films, and one I’ll make a point to track down and buy.

UNfortunately, the brilliant pieces of dark comedy notwithstanding, it just doesn’t work. The smallish budget has nothing to do with it, on the contrary the simplicity of the setting and location is one of its strengths. Nor does the dialogues, infused with an improvisational urban feel that makes the interactions feel much more realistic than most doomed-romance stories. And before naysayers jump the gun, it ain’t Jason Mewes either; the dude shows he’s come a long way since his days as an addict and walking Hollywood joke, and shows he can handle himself in front of a camera. But as sympathetic as Mewes is, he still needs a strong hand to guide him, and he quite visibly doesn’t get it.

Director Harvey Glazer does show skill at making something disturbing look funny, but he also clearly seems much more interested in exteriorizing his romantic frustrations (Women always want more even if it kills you is the none-too-subtle main theme) and obliging in blatant voyeurism towards the painfully gorgeous Erica Cox (who spends the entire film barely clothed, if at all) than firmly steering his boat through a delicate balance of chills and laughs. The actors are left to themselves in crucial moments when a much more experienced filmmaker would’ve made them dish out career-defining performances -the potential is that high with the given material. Only Canadian screen vet Richard Fitzpatrick, playing Jack’s mentor and confidant, manages to look good by himself and bring an A-game to the table. But since the film rests on the shoulders of less experienced Cox and Mewes, the intensity gets completely lost, and the potentially powerful ending comes out as a wet firecracker.

The film’s short running time (barely 80 minutes) and ability to not take itself too seriously allow a still enjoyable watch for what many will consider a complete stinker. It’s far from Uwe-Boll crapness, but also unfortunately not close to what it could’ve been under the guise of a Brad Anderson or Shane Carruth.

6* out of 10

Making of Bitten Video

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