I am strongly of the opinion that there should be more Goths in horror movies. After all, there’s a good deal of overlap between horror fans and alternative subcultures, with a few Elder Goths fondly remembering calling themselves “horror rockers” in the early days of the subculture when the “Gothic” descriptor was an insult. A great deal of Gothic rock draws inspiration from decades upon decades of horror, from the flickering candles of 18th- and 19th-century Romanticism, to the gory camp of 1960s icons like Vincent Price and William Castle, and beyond. I’d also wager more than a few non-Goths have at least heard of the iconic Bauhaus track Bela Lugosi’s Dead – nearly ten minutes of sonic celebration of one of horror cinema’s greatest icons.
But the reverse, Gothic subculture characters in horror movies, tend to be few and far between, and often meet sticky ends when they do appear (see Terrifier or Jennifer’s Body.) So I was delighted when Bite Night‘s ensemble cast was made up entirely of Goth and punk characters, with an opening scene set in a nightclub pulsing with music in a similar post-punk vein (heh) as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Xmal Deutschland, or Joy Division. The bartender is a neat character I wish we’d gotten more of, and the costumes are a well-assembled spectrum of alternative styles that feel very genuine. Other than some horrible strobing lights during the second song that made me feel icky despite not being epileptic, the first scene was pretty well done. But the quality takes a flying leap off a cliff from there.
The general plot is that 5 of the club-goers are invited at random to an exclusive afterparty by the band. On the way to the mansion occupied by the dark divas, one of the party is picked off and replaced by a spy, which nobody notices because they all think he’s a nerd anyway. Upon their arrival, strange things start happening, with the girls in the band putting in strangely few appearances at what’s supposed to be their party, leaving the guests either to themselves or in the hands of the housekeeper. The ladies scheme and bicker among themselves while the guests get to know each other, and something… else begins emerging from the darkness surrounding the house. The reveal that the hosts are vampires is obvious. The reveal that they’re all being hunted by some kind of swamp monster? Not so much. Rather than a straightforward “vampires toying with unsuspecting humans” story, it becomes a potentially zany story of vampires and their would-be victims teaming up against an even bigger threat. But, unfortunately, Bite Night fails to execute the concepts it sets up compellingly.
The pacing and transitions are awful in ways that are hard to describe, other than to say that nothing that’s supposed to be funny or scary is. The acting is on par with a bad porno, and while there are some bad horror movies that can at least double as passable softcore, this isn’t one, with everything that’s played as “sensual” coming off incredibly awkward. There’s also a scene that I think is supposed to be the most awkward parody of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving ever put to screen. It’s really something to behold.
Bite Night could’ve been iconic had a few choices been made differently. If only it had leaned into self-aware stupidity the way the likes of The VelociPastor did, it would probably live forever in so-bad-its-good infamy. But it played itself too straight, and spent too much runtime setting up for a hinted-at sequel, to be anything but a scattered mess.
3 out of 10