One of the coolest films I was lucky enough to catch at the 2018 Popcorn Frights Film Festival was Boogeyman Pop. The super stylish and unique horror flick was the brainchild of Brad Elmore. Well another year and another Popcorn Frights has come and Elmore is back with his latest film BIT.
Bit tells the story of Laurel (Nicole Maines) a young woman who sets out to find a life of her own after graduation. The beginning of the film finds her leaving her parents house and heading to Los Angeles to live with her older brother Mark (James Paxton). It’s a much needed fresh start for her, but unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) during her first night out on the town she crosses paths with Duke (Diana Hopper) and her gang of female vampires. It is from here on out that her life begins to spiral out of control as she attempts to navigate this new bloodthirsty world she is introduced to. She struggles with her identity as she has to come to grips with who she was, who (and what) shes become and most importantly who she wants to be.
The film focuses on Laurel’s struggle with (as you may have guessed) becoming a vampire. Throughout her initiation Duke helps her learn the ropes along the way while hammering home her biggest rule, never turn a man as they already have enough power in the world. Now that very important through-line and the overall feminist themes and overtones of BIT are more than enough to have insecure keyboard warriors implode into one of their “I am the victim here” “this movie is wrong” tantrums that you would expect to find across the internet. The truth is though that no matter what a film like BIT does right, that will always happen because those kinds of people who react that way are unable to understand or accept people who are different from them, they don’t possess the ability to see things from other peoples differing perspectives. Fortunately for us Elmore does know how to do that and he does it exceptionally well. You can clearly see how much Elmore cares about the subject matter, representation and telling this story. And in the hands of a lesser writer or director BIT could have easily been an exploitative and stereotypical mess. Luckily that is not the case and the characters (all of them) and their issues, feelings and concerns are all treated with the care and respect necessary to tell this story effectively.
BIT has been touted as the “LGBT Vampire” film and while that may be simplifying or trying to label the film a bit, it is still also is very accurate as the character Laurel is transgender as is actress Nicole Maines who plays her. This is touched upon in the film at certain points but it is treated very matter-of-factly and not turned into a bigger deal or plot point than it needs to be. Sexuality is also handled this way in the film, people are just who they are and everyone accepts that as a norm (as things should be) and the story and characters move along. It is this kind of representative normalcy that make it feel real and makes you feel like these characters are in fact characters and not just there to fit a quota or fill a stereotype. While some may be worried that the film tears down men, I assure you it does not and it simply shines a light on all the problematic issues women face that many men can take for granted, overlook and also be responsible for. The film advocates women feeling safer, feeling more empowered and it does it without beating you over the head with it so that you don’t feel like you are watching just a piece of propaganda instead of a fully realized vampire film. It just happens to be a vampire film with an important message attached to it and that is a good thing.
Now as far as this vampire film is concerned, Bit also delivers on that front with Elmore not shying away from the blood and violence that horror fans would expect in a film about blood drinking, nocturnal creatures of the night. It touches on all the vampire rules, lore and ideas we have come to know while breathing new life into it with this new badass female vampire twist. the character of Duke will quickly become a fan favorite as Diana Hopper plays the role to perfection and demands your attention every time she is on screen. Elmore has stated he hopes and expects people will dress as Duke for Halloween once they see the film, and I don’t disagree. This is the kind of character and film that people will be talking about and posting all over social media once the film comes out. My friend LC Fremont from HaddonfieldHorror.com compared Laurel and Duke’s dynamic to that of Michael and David from the Lost Boys and that is a very apt comparison. As it is their dynamic and the performances of Hopper and Maine that drive the film. Also integral to the story is Laurel’s relationship with her brother Mark who is wonderfully played by Paxton. Paxton ends up having some of the best lines in the film, comedic or otherwise and he has proven himself yet again as an instantly likable go to guy for this director. Speaking of the director, Elmore’s slick and visually eye catching direction from Boogeyman Pop is still on display here albeit in a much more straight forward way to service this much more linear story. There are some awesome sequences in Bit, my favorite being a particular scene that tells the full story of one of the main characters, you will know it when you see it and it just so perfectly done and showcases the creativity and promise that Elmore possesses. Top it all off with a score by Wolfmen of Mars, Elmore’s previous collaborators, who crafted the stellar Boogeyman Pop score and you have another solid and important piece of work to add to his resume.
There are plenty more things I could say about BIT from it’s story to it’s importance, especially at a time when there is so much hatred, division, intolerance and general douchebaggery going on in the world today. Films like this are needed. They are a way to make a difference. BIT succeeds in illustrating the issues women and the LGBT community face while equally focusing on it’s fresh take on vampires. There are definitely people much more qualified than I am to delve deeper into the more feminist and LGBT aspects of the film, and I will defer to them for more insight there, but as far as I am concerned BIT is a film that delivers on not only it’s messages but it’s horror as well. It’s a great balancing act that Elmore has pulled off here and I hope everyone gives it a chance.
Also Blumhouse hurry up and release Boogeyman Pop!!
BIT IS SCREENING THIS FRIDAY AT THE POPCORN FRIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL AT 10PM IN FORT LAUDERDALE. BRAD ELMORE AND STAR JAMES PAXTON WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE.