May 1, 2016

Movie Review: Bite

Have you ever heard of a movie called Bite? No? I hadn’t either until maybe two weeks ago when it appeared on the schedule for the local Alamo Drafthouse. I decided to take a peek and see what it was all about. Turns out it is an independent horror film that is said to be very gross and has drawn comparisons to Cronenberg’s The Fly. Now, we all know how good that take on The Fly is, so I could not really buy into the positive comparison. Still, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious. Like a soldier with his marching orders, I dutifully went and checked the film out the other night, hoping for the best.

With a modestly intriguing trailer and a nice poster, the movie played out in front of me and proved to be pretty entertaining, flawed, but fun. Bite was directed by Chad Archibald who, last year, gave us The Drownsman (which I have not seen, is it worth a looksee?) and based on his own story, which was turned into a script by Jayme Laforest. The film does call to mind the work of David Cronenberg, but on a lower level. While it is plenty of fun, it feels overall lacking. Still, it is worth checking out at some point, no real rush.

Bite opens like a found footage movie, and not one of the good ones (yes, there are good ones). Casey (Elma Begovic) is on a trip to Costa Rica with her best friends as a last hurrah before getting married. We get clips of them drinking and having a good time and, in true horror movie fashion, learn of a wonderful attraction that is off the beaten path and not very touristy. Of course, the girls head off to investigate. They do, indeed, find the spot and go for a little swim, but as fate would have it, Casey gets bit by something unseen in the water. She does not think much of it. Most of the talk, what little there is, alludes to Casey not being quite ready for marriage.

Once back home, things begin to happen. The bite seems to become grossly infected, she hacks up slime, and is just not herself. We also get to meet her fiance, Jared (Jordan Gray), a successful investment banker who is ready to have a family. We also meet his overbearing mother, who is none too fond of Casey. From here things just begin to get stranger as Casey continues to go through a gooey transformation, which extends to the way her apartment is decorated. It gets gooier and gooier until people begin to venture inside her door triggering the climactic showdown. No, it is not quite as exciting as it sounds, but it does get slimy.

I really wanted to like the movie a lot. Once the transformation begins, there is a lot to like. The design work that went into making the slimed up apartment looks great. Once Casey begins to change, she gets all quirky and wierd, I quite liked that, especially the head twitches. I really liked just how slimy it got with the little egg things all over the place. The problem lies in the writing.

Bite is more of a syrup show than it is a fully featured tale. It does touch on some potentially interesting things, the readiness to have a family, desire to have children, how friends can sometimes be doing things behind your back, and how you always need to be wary of strangers, especially if they direct you off the beaten path into parts unknown. The problem is that this story races through all of that of that to get to the syrupy center, it doesn’t take the time to develop its stories or its characters. For example, the mother character is like a caricature of a mother out of an old movie, not something set in the current time. Then there is Jared, who just seems to be blind to what is going on. For that matter, the characters are more horror cliche than actual people.

No, it is not all bad. It is weird and goofy, gooey, and disgusting, and fun. Yes, it is easy to criticize and I would certainly like to have seen it be better, but that does not mean it is not enjoyable. It is definitely on B side of the coin and is certainly worth checking out, just go in with low expectations. It is a tale headed in the right direction, may have something interesting to say, but forget that and watch it for the goo.

Mildly Recommended.

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