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Review: BITE NIGHT (2020)

I reviewed Maria Lee Metheringham’s film Pumpkins a few months back, and as you may remember I wasn’t very impressed. So, when her latest, Bite Night (the copy I saw still bore the original title, Party of Valice), came my way, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, what I got was a very different kind of film, one that’s much better than Pumpkins. But also, which may have trouble finding its audience.

Valice (Rachel Brownstein), Katarina (Martha Niklas) and Zuzanna (Maria Lee Metheringham) are in a band with a kind of 80s synthpop/goth sound. At their show, they announce six lucky winners will get to come back with them for an exclusive event.

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The lucky winners, Tash (Marcella Edgecobe-Craig), Axel (Ryan-Jay Jones), Ronnie (Kian Pollard), Ridley (Roland Martial), Biffa (Peter M. George), and Ebeneizer (George Walker) head back to the band’s limo expecting a wild afterparty. Instead, they’re shown to their rooms by the housekeeper Sandra (Dani Thompson, I Scream on the Beach!, Cute Little Buggers) and left to their own devices until dinner.

Dinner holds two surprises. Ebeneizer, who disappeared while sliding down a banister, has reappeared. And dinner is a severed human head. Yes, the girls are vampires. But they may not be the most dangerous creature in the house.

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Metheringham cites 90s films such as Fright Night and Clue as inspiration. But the vibe I got was more of a 70s Jess Franco one. Bite Night has long stretches, such as the limo ride, that establish atmosphere but go on way too long. There is odd photography and lighting, but most of all it has his lack of regard for logic.

People appear and disappear without explanation. Something is stirring in the basement, there’s a connection, but what is it? Indeed, almost nothing is explained. The film is, to use her words, “surreal and ridiculous all at the same time.” It’s somewhere between a dream, a nightmare and by the end, a slapstick farce.

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The women themselves are all quite nice to look at, especially Sandra, who looks like she’s channelling Caroline Munro in the video for Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes”. Valice herself, Rachel Brownstein, may be more familiar to some of you as Alexis Silver (don’t Google this from work). They all seem to be having a lot of fun with their performances, too, frequently putting the “vamp” in vampire. One might wish for a little less tease and a bit more sleaze at times, but that wouldn’t fit the tone Bite Night is aiming for.

If you can deal with the slow spots and the bizarre plot, Bite Night is a fun film. If you need something more conventional, this might not work so well for you. You can check the film’s Facebook page for upcoming festival dates and release plans.

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