Anyone here thinking this title has anything to do with hormonally charged teenage vampires is in for the shock of a lifetime.
Imagine ‘The Fly’ in all its gruesome glory, and replace Jeff Goldblum with a partying twenty-something young lady and you are in the ball park. Admittedly Bite’s tagline, ‘everything can change with a single bite’ sounds more like the campaign for anti-malarial tablets than a horror film; although, in irony, this movie would prove as a useful deterrent against people embarking into territories with exotic bugs!
Yes, as you might have expected by my reference to the aforementioned Chronenberg classic ‘The Fly’ this movie is literally about metamorphosis from Human to Insectoid, and whilst the final transformation isn’t exactly the sleep preventing nightmare prosthetic image of Brundle-fly, the gist of the movie is essentially the same, with plenty of opportunities for the same gruesome habits and practical effects – Nice.
The plot follows the not so innocent fiancé of a rich young man. Soon to be wed, she embarks on a trip to South America. When there, after dabbling in a bit of infidelity, her and her super-bitch friends go swimming in a remote jungle pool. Then, it happens – chomp. When she returns back to normal life, she becomes a recluse, transcending from human to bug-like creature with each bodily secretion!
The plot of the film is a plus, able to bring a tried and tested premise (if somewhat of a ‘homage’ shall we say) to a new generation, and with modern horror happy to watch all manner of misery this film is onto a winner from the get go. The cast is well chosen, the three girls who share most of the screen time are ‘normal’ enough, and whilst there is plenty of skin on show in the earlier scenes there is a care taken not to over exploit their looks and to actually get into their personas. This works, because when shit turns nasty, and it does turn nasty, there is a definite intimacy shared with the viewer and gruesome plight suffered by the characters. There is a definite theme of freedom of spirit, basal desires and fertility running throughout, and there is something to be said about choosing lead character in her youthful prime; it’s not quite the tragic love story portrayed in Chronenberg’s classic, but it’s not all gratuitous tits and gore either.
That said, my only criticism of the film is also along those lines. The plot works, symbolism and underlying themes etc., but the film seems to reach a creative plateau in both its story and in its gore around the start of the third act, essentially leaving itself with nowhere to go from there. Whilst this is only a mild criticism, the end set of sequences, which I was waiting to go off the chart, never really delivered – it kind of just sticks at this one level for the last 20 mins and the plot would have benefited from a little meander or twist from the linear path to really hit its mark.
That said, it’s still an awesome journey even without a climactic ending.
Before I begin critiquing the gru and gore contained within I just want to make sure that you fully understand the bragging rights ‘Bite’ brings to its DVD release. The story goes that the director left one of the early screenings for a brief period of time only to receive a phone calls saying that the auditorium was having to hand out sick bags, and one guy in disgust had tried to escape the film, tripped and smacked his head. You cannot make this sort of shit up (well you can, but you get found out!). This appears to be substantiated!
So, is bite that bad? Well yes and no. It is pretty much perfect in the whole gore department. Naturally, the film is pretty gross – and thoroughly deserving in its reputation, and the effects are really something special. Does it go beyond horror movie gross though? Well not really. What is cool however, rather than limiting itself to one particular type of monster/insect the film allows a diversity of habits, seeing our unfortunate lead character go through life cycles of arthropods such as a spider, an egg laying roach, and of course, digestive juice excreting beasty. As I’ve said, the effects look great – a lot of seriously skin tingling moments, with very little ‘dodgy’ effects. Again, slight niggle here, whilst there are plenty of standout sequences, there isn’t a fully metamorphose, and despite somebody altering makeup the creature at the end remains reminiscent of a human – save a rather gruesome stinger style limb. Perhaps I was expecting a bit much but I kind of thought it was going in the full creature transformation – again, that plateau I spoke about comes into play. By the hour mark you have witnessed many of the film’s best moments with the final act continuing in a fairly repetitive vein. Still, some of the films shocking scenes mid-way through do set the bar pretty high!
Overall, ‘Bite’ is a seriously solid entry into the creature/body horror genre, whilst being a gnats wing (see what I did there) away from being perfect. It’s out on DVD on the 10th of October and it is definitely one for the spooky season. This is another must purchase this Halloween.