Get your fangs ready, because just when you think the well has run dry for narrative innovation in the romantic comedy subgenre, we get Bite Me. Directed by Meredith Edwards and written by star Meredith Edwards, this charming film involves vampirism and the IRS, two topics one would never expect to use in the same sentence. By mixing the macabre and the mundane, the filmmakers successfully craft a film where love blooms during potentially terrifying circumstances. No, not during a vampire attack, but by an objectively scarier event: an IRS audit.
Sarah (Naomi McDougall Jones) is a young woman down on her luck sporting an ill-advised face tattoo that looks remarkably like Mike Tyson’s. Oh, she’s also a self-professed vampire, not in a mythic sense (she cannot shapeshift), but she does need to regularly feed on human blood in order to function. Sarah lives with two women her age (also vampires) in a small New York apartment that also serves as a church for her small unit of bloodsuckers. The church’s tax-exempt status has come into question by the IRS. Enter auditor James (Christian Coulson) into her life. They meet to discuss the audit and love soon blossoms. However, complications inevitably ensue as her vampirism and his role as an IRS auditor eventually clash.
“…her vampirism and his role as an IRS auditor eventually clash.”
Even a marginally successful romcom needs two leads that can work in romantic and comedic registers, often within the same scene. Jones and Coulson, and their ample chemistry, more than fit the bill. Sarah’s stoicism contrasts pleasantly with the more neurotic register of James, a man who regularly Skypes with his mum and cuddles a stuffed robot named Mellowtron. An eclectic supporting cast of vampires and IRS bureaucrats also elevate the film. This includes eccentric performances from Antino Crowley-Kamenwati as Stacz, a celebrity vampire, and fantastic character actor Annie Golden as Faith, a hyper-religious coworker, and roommate of James.
Unfortunately, not all the comedy lands successfully. But there are enough tongue-in-cheek nods to classic vampire popular culture to keep the film feeling light. These touches, combined with the earnestness of the performances, help to separate this from the endless barrage of unoriginal romcoms that appear on popular streaming services every holiday season. Even so, Edwards could have done more with the community of vampires to make use of the unique set-up. That’s not to say she needs to rely on an outlandish plot to succeed in Bite Me. Quite the contrary, as the film works on its own merits within its genre context due to the charming leads and comical writing.
Filmmakers understandably revert to formulas precisely because they are proven to work if the right pieces are in place. Bite Me has all the pieces in play, and even if there’s never any doubt as to exactly when the obligatory narrative beats are coming, we still greet them with a smile on our faces. Perfect for a low-key date night with your significant other, this is a fun spin on a well-known genre. Plastic fangs are sadly not included.
"…a fun spin on a well-known genre."