Movie Review: Bite
Director: Chad Archibald
Writer: Jayme Laforest
Stars: Elma Begovic, Annette Wozniak, Jordan Gray, Denise Yuen
It has been quite some time since a body horror film has been played as straight out horror and not a comedy/horror (for the first in I don’t know how many films, maybe The Fly) and the result is bleak, black and gooey.
Chad Archibald (Antisocial, The Drownsman) directs this tale of Casey who goes for a Hens getaway and gets bitten by an unknown bug, when she returns not only does she have cold feet but big pus oozing sore. From here things go from bad to gross. The film starts as a found footage montage (don’t worry FF haters, it doesn’t last long) where we see Casey and her (mostly terrible) friends partying, drinking and doing all the stuff you do when celebrating your final single days. When they all get back home, Casey is starting to show some signs that something is wrong.
Bite’s acting is decent with Elma Begovic being the standout she does well in the emotional scenes and manages to bring some humanity to the thing she eventually becomes. Her scenes in which she is battling internally against the foreign virus are really great. Annette Wozniak is also pretty good as Jill, Casey’s unfriendly friend. Casey’s role however is the most difficult of all being that the character is dealing with wedding jitters, a nasty mother in law and that pesky turning into a monster thing. Which brings me to the writing, the film is written by Jayme Laforest and for the most part Jayme constructs a nicely paced story that packs a lot more into than you would believe a body horror film could. However I have a small issue with the film, in the way a revelation is made which feels a bit tacked on however it’s a small gripe from me as it still fits into the story arc.
Archibald’s direction is swift moving the story along (despite the fact it takes a while to really get going) and giving us small teases of pus filled sores, mucus filled vomit and sticky saliva, until he gets to unleash the full range of horrors, all of them which reside as metaphors of what Casey is going through. Utilising the one apartment as the majority of the setting helps gives you that feeling of claustrophobia and perhaps even agoraphobia, making you live inside Casey’s ever growing hell. Casey’s make up is quite good as facially she looks like a nightmare come to life and in fact the whole set is really well done. There was one exception and it involves the extra something that Casey gains. For the most part it is kept out of full view which was the right decision because it doesn’t look good at all in full view.
Bite certainly makes you question a few things like should you go overseas and should you trust your friends? In Bite’s case the answer is probably no. However Bite is refreshing in that it takes the body horror sub-genre back to its roots, it doesn’t treat it like a joke and plays it dead straight. A horror film that is actually horrific, when you look at the consequences for everyone who is connected to Casey... How about that?
Well worth your time.
Bite makes its world premiere on Fantasia International Film Festival on July 29.
Images: GAT & Fantasiafestival.com