To celebrate Women in Horror Month, I will be highlighting some of my favorite undersung female characters in horror films each day this month. These posts will contain some spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movies mentioned, do yourself a solid and check them out before reading all the way through.
Today I’m celebrating Laurel from the 2019 Bit.
Laurel is as much on this list for what she is and what she isn’t. Bit follows her journey from a small town to L.A. where she falls in with a group of queer women vampires who try whenever possible to feed on slimeball men they pickup around town.
It is only hinted at in the movie, but Laurel is an explicitly trans character played by a trans actress (Nicole Maines from Supergirl!). Despite my own misgivings about aspects of the movie, this is a groundbreaking character and performance for the horror genre. Laurel’s transness and queerness are just there – there’s no dramatic coming out for either and she even has a cute and sexy love scene on an L.A. ROOFTOP nonetheless with one of the vampires. It is refreshing how expressly queer the film is. It can be fun for a mainstream audience, but it isn’t made to cater to straight and/or cisgender viewers.
But I also love Laurel because she is just an everyday teenage girl trying to find herself after graduating high school and moving to a big city. As someone who is starting to get ma’amed on a semi-regular basis, it is fun and nostalgic to see a scrappy young woman figuring herself out. And even though the movie isn’t catering to a mainstream audience, portraying Laurel as a girl going through a coming of age who happens to get tangled up with a group of vampires allows anyone who enjoys things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost Boys to relate to and root for her. She’s an exceeding standard horror heroine in so many ways, and that’s part of what makes her great.
Although it is hard to watch Laurel lose her way, when she finds her path again she does so with charm and agency. Laurel vows to create a new path forward at the end of the film – a path that strives for true equity for a group of disparate vampires.
Hats off to Laurel for being a refreshingly ordinary and refreshingly groundbreaking protagonist all at once.