Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Bite (2016): Review

Bite is a 2016 body horror film. Directed by Chad Archibald (The Drownsman) and starring Elma Begovic (Save Yourself) and Jordan Grey. The movie generated buzz at the 2015 Fantasia Film Festival after reports of audience members fainting and vomiting.

The film begins in the found footage style and follows bride-to-be Casey on holiday in Costa Rica as her friends help her bid farewell to singledom. Along the way, she ends up getting bitten by an unseen insect while frolicking in a rock pool and, after returning home to her fiancé, starts to develop some very worrying symptoms. Existing tensions between Casey and her Fiance ? (Grey) and anxieties over the upcoming wedding are exacerbated by the rapid progression from hives and vomiting into a semi amphibious, insectoid metamorphosis. The apartment is soon transformed into a nest as the grotesque Casey takes her revenge on those that have wronged her and threatens to unleash her offspring on the unsuspecting outside world.

It’s impossible to discuss body horror without bringing up the pioneer of the sub-genre David Cronenberg (The Fly, Videodrome, Existenz) and his influence is felt throughout this film, most prominently the influence of The Fly (1987). There is a fine line between homage and pastiche and, much of the time, Bite struggles to establish it’s own identity in the shadow of Cronenberg’s revolting masterpiece. Sure, the gender roles are reversed but this cannot overcome the distracting similarities between Casey and the Brundlefly, including a few scenes that are exact replicas (think fingernails and acid vomit).

I can’t take anything away from the effects as that’s the real strength of the movie and the goopy spawn that covers the apartment is a nice touch. Unfortunately, the carefully crafted set and creature design are often let down by a cheesy script delivered in pantomime style. Perhaps the only thing that isn’t borrowed from The Fly is the transformed creature’s inability to speak but this would have been preferable as every time the fearsome looking Casey opened her mouth I laughed out loud.

An admirable effort but body horror is a tricky act to pull off unless you’re named Cronenberg, and sometimes if you are (Sorry Brandon). I would have preferred if the creature had turned out to be amphibious rather than insectoid (as initially suggested) but, in the end, the film doesn’t manage to break any new ground. Body horror completists may enjoy but, then again, they’ve probably seen it all before.

** 2 Stars

What did you think of the film? Are you a fan of body horror?


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