Amy Adams' Nightbitch Has Almost The Exact Same Premise As A 2017 Indie Movie

Fans of both horror comedies and Amy Adams have been buzzing around her upcoming performance in "Nightbitch," the Marielle Heller-directed feature based on Rachel Yoder's book of the same name. If Amy Adams doing a horror comedy wasn't enough to generate a whole mess of interest, the evocative title and compelling premise is sure to do the trick. "Nightbitch" is about a suburban stay-at-home mom who is exhausted due to raising a hyperactive child on her own due to her husband's constant traveling for work, and she begins to transform into a dog at night as a means to cope. Esquire called Yoder's story "an outrageous Kafkaesque parable about the mundanity and monstrosity of early motherhood," and the story's film rights were sought after before the novel even hit bookstore shelves.

Yoder told Esquire the inspiration for "Nightbitch" came from the book "Dept. of Speculation" by Jenny Offill, when the narrator says, "It was never my plan to get married. I wanted to become an art monster instead." Yoder said it was that theme of a mother whose ambitions were viewed as monstrous that struck a chord with her and motivated her to write the book. Additionally, Yoder says "Nightbitch" is also an incredibly personal work, with her own frustrations and challenges during her early years of motherhood reflected within the book's protagonist. It's an interesting way to process the feelings we often have as women existing in the world, and similarly, werewolf movies have frequently served as metaphors for those feelings ... but "Nightbitch" sounds almost identical to the 2017 indie film "Bitch" from Marianna Palka.

An act of simultaneous invention ... we hope

I am in no way accusing Rachel Yoder or Marielle Heller of plagiarizing Marianna Palka's work and truly believe this is an instance where two creatives had a similar idea. I am, however, using this opportunity to talk about Palka's "Bitch," a criminally underseen indie feature that wound up on two of our writers' Best of Sundance lists back in 2017. Palka wrote, directed, and starred in "Bitch," the story of a stay-at-home mom named Jill who is at her wits' end from stress. Her husband, Bill (the always perfectly cast Jason Ritter), isn't doing his share of the household chores and cheats on his wife while away for work. Jill feels like she's reached the end and attempts to take her own life by hanging herself with a dog leash.

Fortunately, Jill survives the attempt, but unfortunately, she endures a nervous breakdown and disappears, leaving Bill alone to take care of the home and their four children. The children are convinced their mother has been kidnapped, but one day after school they discover her hiding out in the basement, behaving like a dog. Bill decides to pretend everything is normal and keep Jill's behavior a secret, ignoring the request of his sister-in-law to get her the help she so clearly needs. Jill's breakdown forces Bill to completely change the course of his life, and their family is weirdly better for it. "Bitch" is a fantastic feminist satire and features phenomenal performances from Palka, Ritter, and Jaime King as Jill's sister, Beth, but it was unceremoniously released on VOD. To make matters even stranger, "Bitch" isn't even the first "stressed out mom turns into dog" film, either.

Entering our feral era

Fifteen years before "Bitch" and two full decades before "Nightbitch," Kasia Adamik directed an indie drama called "Bark!" Heather Morgan stars as a dog walker named Lucy who slowly begins to assume the identity of a dog. Where it differs from both "Bitch" and "Nightbitch" is Lucy doesn't have the extreme stress of motherhood and a husband who weaponizes his incompetence to motivate her disconnect, just a general dislike of the normalized rudeness and abject cruelty present in the world at large. The film was based off a 90-second sketch comedy bit, and based on the 14% the film currently boasts on Rotten Tomatoes, it definitely shows. (To be fair, stars Heather Morgan, Lisa Kudrow, Lee Tergesen, Vincent D'Onofrio, Hank Azaria, and Mary Jo Deschanel are all an absolute delight.)

Rather than throw accusations of who copied whom, it's infinitely more interesting to see that three separate creative women across a 20-year span have all felt drawn to stories where women disassociate and turn into a dog as a means to deal with the world around them. When Roe v. Wade was overturned, I joked that I was "finally entering my feral era," because I was filled with so much anger and rage the only thing that felt worthy of my energy was ripping something to shreds with my teeth or pissing on the lawn of six Supreme Court justices. People have been calling women "bitches" to demean us for years, but maybe this cinematic hat trick is a way to say embracing our literal inner bitch doesn't have to be a bad thing after all.