I don’t know if you’ve ever seen The Fly – it’s a masterpiece, with Jeff Goldblum as the scientist whose body deteriorates after an experiment, becoming more and more fly-like. It is one of the best body horror films ever, and in comparing itself to it, Bite sets its sights highly. Bite fails to really deliver, though – its gore does the job, but subpar acting and a plot hole-laden script mean it pushes average at best.
Casey (Elma Begovic) is on her bachelorette party in Costa Rica, doubting whether or not she truly should get married to her beau Jared (Jordan Grey). There, she and her friends seek out a mythical swimming hole and, finding it, Casey is bitten by a small insect. She returns home with cold feet, as growing doubts and the wedding and the fact she and Jared don’t have the same plans for the future. Her bite, meanwhile, seems to be infected and is making her feel incredibly unwell – she begins to transform into an insect-like creature that feeds on human flesh, and starts to succumb to her instincts.
I wanted to like this film, and there are things to like here, but my first impression was tempered massively by the fact it was found footage. All the clichés are there, from events that wouldn’t be filmed (and who films someone by pointing the camera at the mirror so they can get the full room in?) to the requisite faux scare and, had it continued that way, I would have enjoyed this film less so. Fortunately, it shifts to a more conventional style after about seven minutes, the filming at the start setting up a payoff at the end which almost works (it cuts to this style with a name job of the movie’s title, which is then displayed on screen in a frankly hilarious manner).
There have been stories of people vomiting and passing out watching this film – I think you’d need a somewhat weak constitution for it to have that effect, but the body horror is well done. We have pus erupting from wounds, vomiting and drooling all kinds of fluids and Casey laying fly eggs, all of which are realised through excellent practical effects. If you’re a fan of being grossed out, this aspect of the movie will definitely appeal to you.
This is Begovic’s first leading role, and she is a treat. She has two roles to juggle – she starts as a woman bound in relationship woes, before turning into a monster – and the transition between the two is seamless and natural (or as natural as you’d imagine it could be). Begovic has to carry a lot of the picture, and she does this well.
Sadly, the other actors let Bite down quite a lot. Denise Yuen is a sympathetic friend, but she barely appears before she gets polished off. Annette Wozniak is a slutty girl who is half-portrayed as a genius manipulator, but it doesn’t really work, but the one who gets me more is Grey. His Jared is an appallingly bland character – one whom two of our leading ladies pine for, despite him coming across as boring, boorish and selfish. A Freudian excuse for him is offered early on – that he has a level of mummy issues not seen on-screen since the last Psycho film – but that doesn’t work (it doesn’t help that, the moment the mother is killed, he never thinks of her again – such a doting child).
It is also a bit of a grind because a number of gaping script issues that take you right out of the story. Casey, having become a monster, has also transformed her apartment. We’re meant to believe that three separate people would enter and, finding the squalor, not immediately decide to leave or call help. We’re meant to find Casey a stick in the mud for not being too pleased the morning after she was date-raped. And how can there be any drama attached to Casey not taking Jared’s phone calls when we are continuously told that he only lives a few doors down the hall?
Bite is a movie that does a decent job, and realises some impressive visuals despite its budget. However, a very uneven bunch of actors and a poor script make it a bit too off to really enjoy. As an example of body horror, it is one of the better ones of recent times – it’s a shame it couldn’t also be a good film to go along with it.
Director: Chad Archibald
Cast: Elma Begovic (Casey), Annette Wozniak (Jill), Denise Yuen (Kirsten), Jordan Gray (Jared), Lawrene Denkers (Mrs. Kennedy), Caroline Palmer (Hannah)
Running Time: 90 Mins
Image credit: http://www.thegeekedgods.com/bite-2015-review/