Director: Chad Archibald
Cast: Elma Begovic, Jordan Gray, Annette Wozniak, Denise Yuen, Lawrene Denkers
Running Time: 90 minutes
Synopsis: A bachelorette party in Central America ends with some disturbing changes to the bride-to-be, after she’s bitten by an unseen creature.
Fans of body shock and gore, rejoice! Chad Archibald’s latest offering, Bite promises to deliver the yuck factor if reports of audience vomiting and fainting at its Fantasia Fest premiere are to be believed.
Bite doesn’t start in promising fashion. The soon-to-be-married Casey’s (Begovic) hen party takes place in the exotic climes of Costa Rica (lots of potential for large bitey bugs) and it’s filmed via…handheld cameras. We watch shaky images of the ladies partying with the locals, cavorting in the jungle and knocking back the drinks. I hate them already. There is a point to this videocam sequence (which becomes apparent later) but it’s an irritating device. Still, characterisation is set up (main point being Casey is getting major cold feet) and of course the apocalyptic bite happens (she’s chomped by an unseen beastly assailant while swimming).
Once entrenched back in her expensive, gloomy and strangely empty apartment building, interesting changes start to happen to Casey’s body. Changes that involve pus, gloop, seeping yellow gunge, slime, stickiness, and general all-round nastiness. Okay, okay…there’s going to be a few comparisons to Cronenberg’s body shock horror of The Fly but Bite really isn’t in the same league.
Archibald’s film is simply about the slimy spectacle. Although there’s a more believable performance from Elma Begovic (Casey), the rest of the cast is awkward, while Casey’s future mother-in-law (Lawrene Denkers) approaches parody. Instead, you’ve got to approach Bite as a gross-out exhibition of bodily gunk, and on that it does deliver.
There are some deeper elements to Bite, but they’re never fully developed. Thematically, the film raises questions around femininity, maternity and our given roles in society, while that dodgy handheld footage skims over issues around sexual consent and rape. There’re questions too around who really owns Casey’s body, as the alien changes forced upon her oddly mirror her doubts and anxieties about motherhood. In a way, Bite could have been so much more.
Bite certainly has its appeal. It’s a romp through various bodily fluids and orifices and no doubt the Frightfest crowd this year will revel together in the gloopy spectacle. However, once the pus has been wiped off and the area’s been disinfected, audiences may be left with a slightly empty feeling.
Bite review, Claire Joanne Huxham, August 2015.
Bite will screen as part of Frightfest’s programme, screening on Monday 31st August at 3:35pm.