Spooky Movie Festival 2015: “Bite” Reviewed

Posted by Michael Parsons on October 11, 2015 in , / No Comments


“Bite” will undoubtedly draw the attention of gore-hounds who are curious why it caused such a stir at Fantasia Film Festival, where paramedics reportedly had to come to the assistance of several intestinally-distressed audience members.

My prognosis is food poisoning. Chad Archibald’s monster movie, which sinks its teeth in early but cuts itself off at the knees, observes in much icky, gooey detail the transformation of a young woman into a giant insect. But gross as it is, “Bite” should be tolerable for anyone who has ever witnessed shingles or explosive salmonella.

Director/story-originator Archibald (“Ejecta”) and screenwriter Jayme Laforest (“Gods of Accident”) are content to leave it to the set design and top-notch make-up, which is enough for a while, as the film develops into something between Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and Carter Smith’s much more gruesome and underrated “The Ruins”, before running out of ideas.

BITE---FESTIVAL-POSTERSomewhat like the latter movie, a young woman on her bachelorette getaway (Elma Begovic) finds herself hosting a horrific bacteria in an exotic land, in this case Costa Rica, after sustaining a bite from something in an idyllic fresh water spring. She returns home to fiancée Jared (Jordan Gray), a kind of douchey dude who lives under the aegis of his overbearing mother (Lawrene Denkers), thinking that cold feet is her biggest problem.

But a festering rash proves to be of more urgent concern. Maybe an STD she’d picked up from a strapping young buck down in Central America? Well, we know better, even though evidence of infidelity lingers vaguely in the video taken by her friends (Annette Wozniak, Denise Yuen, Tianna Nori), one of whom seems to have an ulterior motive when it comes to their friendship.

But “Bite” never quite gets under the skin enough to truly shock, at least beyond the favorable effect it’ll likely have on the industrial lubricants market. The film suffocates an interesting core theme before it has a chance to develop, with the gore that comprises the movie’s third act proving more redundant than repellent. The ultimate irony spills into the final frames like a bursting sack of caviar. 

But as far as eerie, claustrophobic setting goes, “Bite” has it in spades, as the metamorphosis takes place primarily within the confines of a small apartment where Begovic earns serious credit for a role that even Linda Blair might have turned down considering the physical demands. A fate that, as we see, might be less agonizing than dealing with her future mother-in-law/landlord from hell.

“Bite” screens 8:00 PM Sunday, October 11th at the Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival.

Michael Parsons

Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.

During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).

The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.

A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.

Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.

(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *