BITE Review

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Bite me, says Gail Williams

Well, where do I start with “Bite”? Quick synopsis - a couple of weeks before her wedding, Casey and two girlfriends, Jill and Kirsten, go to Costa Rica for a week of freedom before married life overtakes. While away revelations show that Casey is having doubts and doesn’t want the children fiancĂ© Jared is desperate for. So Jill, who wants Jared for herself, starts pushing for Casey to tell him and call off the wedding. Then the girls dive into some manky looking water and Casey gets bitten. On her return, the bite festers and she gets sick. She also turns out to be pregnant. The rest of the movie is really about the consequences of gestation.

Elma Begovic, who plays Casey, puts in one hell of a performance in Bite. She’s not about to get an Oscar, but what she does is commendable. The things she must have had to hold in her mouth to do some of the effects turns my stomach just to think about, she’s a brave lass for giving it go.

Back in the US, the first sign of trouble is when Casey suddenly appears to have superhuman hearing. Then the dog that loves Casey for taking it on long walks refuses to go near her - clearly the smartest being in the movie! Light becomes too bright for Casey to bear, she drops eggs on the floor like Linda Blair peeing on the carpet, and then she starts spiting acid - in the mother-in-law-to-be’s face, so kudos on that one! Nails come away from the nail beds. She eats a cockroach... The movie does focus a lot of the time on Casey so a lot rests on Elma's performance. She brings an as-rounded-as-the-script-would-allow portrait to the screen. Actually, to be fair, the moment she has is a very good Igor-in-Bedlam performance.

The visual effects are both fantastic and appalling. The make-up on Begovic, especially towards the end, is nothing short of brilliant. From the contact lens and face paint, the elongated fingers, to the apparent ‘holed’ skin. Even her feet are painted well, though I was left wondering why her toes hadn’t morphed in much the same way as her fingers. Still, it was really well done.

The storyline has it all. But that's not always a good thing as if, like me, you've been watching horror for a few decades, then you've likely seen it all before. And it’s hugely signposted along the way. You’ll have seen most, if not all of the tropes coming a mile off.

I didn’t enjoy the Blair Witch style shaky-cam of the beginning when the twenty-somethings are partying, but that might be because I hate unsteady-cam and haven’t been a twenty-something for a little while, so I can forgive it that. However, the superhuman hearing seemed to be more like selective superhuman hearing, and this took me out of proceedings and made little story sense - if the hearing's supposed to be supersensitive, then shouldn't it be sensitive to everything? Then there were the continuity errors. In one scene, depending on the shot, Casey is wearing either a nightdress or just a bra-panty set. Sorry but that was such an obvious failure, the editor should have noticed it. What’s worse is that a simple reordering of the cuttings would have resolved the issue.

Bite is also quite a slow-burner of a film, with the story taking too long to get to the monster-part of the show. However, once it does the pace steps up and so does the rest of the movie.

Bite is a low budget movie, possibly a micro-budget movie, and for that it’s actually achieved reasonably high-quality output. Note that quality is about meeting the required criteria, not necessarily about money and gold trimmings, and in this case the criteria are about being horrified by a watchable movie. By that measure, Bite can be said to stack up, at least in part.

I also think that for the horror world there are a few stars of the future hidden within the goo here. Elma Begovic and the visual effects guys especially.

BITE opens in select theaters, VOD and On Demand May 6th, 2016

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