Taglines: This may sting a little.
While on her bachelorette party getaway, Casey, the bride to be, gets a seemingly harmless bite from an unknown insect. After returning home with cold feet, Casey tries to call off her wedding but before she’s able to, she starts exhibiting insect like traits. Between her physical transformation and her wedding anxiety, Casey succumbs to her new instincts and begins creating a hive that not only houses her translucent eggs, but feeds on the flesh of others. As her transformation becomes complete, Casey discovers that everything can change with a single bite.
Film Review: Bite
Three friends head to the tropical paradise of Costa Rica for an extended bachelorette party, but after one of the girls is bitten by an unseen creature they realize too late that they should have gone to Las Vegas instead — because what happens in the jungle is about to follow them home.
Casey (Elma Begovic) and her two best friends, Jill (Annette Wozniak) and Kirsten (Denise Yuen), are celebrating Casey’s impending nuptials with an exotic vacation. Drinks, dancing and exploring the wonders of nature are all on the schedule, but their last day and night there end the trip on a less than thrilling note. Casey is bitten on her thigh while cooling off in a milky spring, and by the time they return home the bite appears nearly infected.
She has more pressing concerns though as growing doubts about the wedding and the unspoken fact that she and Jared (Jordan Grey) don’t share the same plans for a family leave her stressed and frazzled. Mother-in-law issues along with worries that she may not have been faithful on the vacation fracture her nerves further, but as Casey’s body begins to change her abilities and desires follow suit. Casey was bitten, but those around her are about to feel the bite.
Writer/director Chad Archibald (The Drownsman, Ejecta) opens his new film Bite with video footage of the girls’ vacation, but thankfully he chooses not to burden the movie and audience by being yet another found footage horror film. It’s appreciated on the face of it, but that decision also benefits the dual power of the film’s gory, gross and emotionally palpable third act.
Threat of found footage aside, the film starts a bit rough for other reasons too. The performances feel a bit wooden and artificial due in part to dialogue that feels too orchestrated in it efforts to be both spontaneous and expositional. The snippets we’re made witness to try too hard to make us aware of Casey’s issues instead of simply allowing viewers to discover them naturally, and they never feel as if they’re part of a bigger whole.
Casey’s return introduces us to the somewhat unconvincing apartment building she calls home — exterior shots resemble more of a warehouse and it’s curiously devoid of other tenants — and we settle in to watch her life and body deteriorate. Her loss is our gain as she tries to settle back into her life only to find guilt, fear and something else eating her up inside. Pus, bile and other bodily fluids leak from her body, and Archibald ensures that we see the discharge happening in such detail that we can almost smell it as well. Viewers with weak gag reflexes have been warned.
Fans of David Cronenberg’s The Fly may land on this film for its “body horror” element, but it shares more in common with 2013’s Contracted as a young woman’s body seemingly pays a physical price for a fun but ill-advised excursion. A bite is immediately to blame here, but the connection between sexual activity and her body’s subsequent physical devolution are clear. The effects work here does a fantastic, cringe-worthy job of of depicting the things that happen to Casey’s body as well as the things her body does to others. Equally effective is her apartment’s transition into a lair befitting a human-sized creature with messy eating habits.
Directed by: Chad Archibald
Starring: Elma Begovic, Annette Wozniak, Jordan Gray, Lawrene Denkers, Denise Yuen, Tianna Nori, Caroline Palmer
Screenplay by: Chad Archibald, Jayme Laforest
Production Design by: Vincent Moskowec
Cinematography by: Jeff Maher
Film Editing by: Nick Montgomery
Art Direction by: Cameron Nash
Music by: Steph Copeland
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Black Fawn Films
Release Date: May 6, 2016