After the absolute disaster of a movie that was Sleepaway Camp, the only way I was going to get that taste out of my mouth was with a horror movie that dealt with issues of being trans or gay without the fuckery of that film. Thankfully, this movie centers a trans woman as the main character without it being her whole defining trait and the fact that the actress actually is trans is a nice departure from what you normally see in standard Hollywood fare.
Laurel comes from a small town in Oregon and has just graduated high school. She’s looking to spend the summer in L.A. with her brother and try to figure out what it is she wants to do with her life. Her first night out, though, ends up with her falling in with the wrong crowd. Which is to say a bunch of feminist, mostly lesbian vampires. Now it’s not enough that she has to figure out what she wants to do with her life but now she has to figure out what she wants to do with her entire undeath. Being a teenage vampire can be pretty heavy.
I love that this movie, like so many vampire films before it, starts out with the rules of what does and doesn’t work on a vampire. Which is basically nothing works except fire and, even then, you have to burn the heart in order to kill one. It also sets up telling us the rules of the group and is very tidy for an opening scene. It also established something else that I enjoy about this film, which is that the characters aren’t really painted as being the “good guys” of the film at all. We see that they prey upon men that might “deserve” it (rapists, abusers, etc.) but we also see that they are just as willing to feed off of random innocent strangers. It would be easy to fall into the trap of making them either avenging heroes or feminist caricatures of the “man stomping lesbian”.
I would have liked to have seen more of a couple of the side character vampires. There are only 4 of them, aside from Laurel, but we only spend any significant time with the main one. Two of them don’t get more than maybe one or two lines each in the entire thing. That’s just a nitpick personal preference, though. They have a rule that you can’t turn a man into a vampire because they will eventually just turn cruel and I love the way the movie shows that as both being not entirely fair but also a pretty reasonable conclusion to make. The movie makes it a point to show that it isn’t just men that abuse power and that it’s a bad idea to give anyone full control. The answer is to share power amongst equals rather than trading one ruler for another.
While not a particularly scary film, there is plenty of blood flowing for the vampires. Bit manages to be both intriguing and entertaining with a good example of what movies can be like if LGBTQ+ characters are treated as normal people without also just ignoring their struggles and experience.
Score: 4.5 out of 5