Fresh off its premiere at Outfest, Brad Michael Elmore’s Bit tells the story of Laurel (Nicole Maines), newly eighteen years old and on vacation to stay with her brother Mark (James Paxton) in Los Angeles. During the genesis of Laurel’s time in the City of Angels, she meets Izzy (Zolee Griggs) at the club, and is quickly infatuated. To Laurel’s shock, Izzy bites her, turning her into a vampire, and incidentally bringing her into a group of femme vampires, led by Duke (Diana Hopper) and filled out by Frog (Char Diaz) and Roya (Friday Chamberlain). The mission of the fanged foursome? Bring a fear of a female planet through their vampirism and vigilante justice.
The premise of the film ticks all of my boxes (Feminism? An out trans woman on the marquee? And vampires? Count me the fuck in!), and while the novelty of a transgender actress in the leading role is nice, the performance Nicole Maines delivers takes the film from novelty to heavyweight in the genre. Yes, Laurel is a young woman in need of direction, but she is never so vulnerable, it hurts. She is flawed, even impressionable, but never feels excessive in that sense. I can also appreciate that the status of Laurel as trans is made explicit, but never becomes a major plot point until the final act of the film, and even then it shows the lack of development of another key character.
The introduction of the idea of a cure to vampirism is an interesting plot device. Upon the first hint of it, I was looking forward to how it would play into the plot, and while I will say one of the key moments involving said cure reeks a bit of “convenient placement is convenient,” the way they implement the cure was well done, all things considered.
My only real disappointment with the core group of vampires was the lack of focus on Roya and Frog. Izzy is the catalyst for the events that take up much of the film, and Duke is the charismatic leader that is compelling and chilling all at once, but Roya and Frog felt like tertiary characters at best. If we’re going to advertise this is as a group, I feel like those two should have played into the story better, or at least had some sort of subplot to give their characters meaning in the grand scheme. It takes away from the experience a little bit, in retrospect, that these characters don’t get more screen time or relevance.
At the end of the day, Bit is the kind of movie that will make the bob-wearing Karens of the world scream in horror, the 4chan keyboard warrior types of the world groan in disgust, and leave fans of queer horror cheering in their seats. The film itself is not perfect, but it knows what it is and what it stands for, and it follows through on nearly every promise it makes.