Tuesday, 11 October 2016

BITE review

People often return from holiday with many things. Memories, photographs, possibly a straw donkey. Well, Casey (Elma Begovic) has come back from celebrating her bachelorette party covered in insect bites and with an, ahem, nasty infection. Returning to the apartment building that also houses her domineering and disapproving future mother-in-law, Casey's bite soon becomes an oozing mess that she tries to hide from her friends and fiance as it changes her into...something else.

After the brief pre-title sequence that sees Casey on her bachelorette party where she received her bite whilst having a dip in a remote spring (captured as if it's found footage; an over-used gimmick in the horror genre currently, that is thankfully jettisoned when the film returns home), the majority of the film takes place solely within Casey's apartment. A budgetary choice i'm sure, but it works well in amplifying her increased isolation as the sickness takes hold. Retracing her steps by watching the video camera footage her friends captured on holiday in order to find out what actually went on, as she undergoes her transformation the film certainly delivers the ewww factor, turning her from a clammy mess into something amphibious and genuinely disgusting. Even the neighbours dog doesn't want to be walked by her anymore. 

What works is that the bulk of the odd and disgusting things around her apartment are achieved practically rather than relying on CGI effects. What's missing is any real sense as to why this is happening to Casey. The obvious touch point for any body horror is David Cronenberg's The Fly, which tapped into the 1980's fear of the AIDS pandemic to deliver a film with a real social conscience. Bite does cover a similar theme with Casey's potential promiscuity whilst abroad and the consequences therein, but there's a concerning implication that her desire for a normal sex life is what is being punished, something I doubt the filmmakers were aiming for.

There's some ropey acting among the supporting cast that detracts from the game portrayal of Casey by Elma Begovic (her mopey fiance does little more than stare at himself in the mirror, raising serious questions about the plausibility of their relationship), but as direct to VOD/DVD low budget horrors go, Bite isn't terrible, and the suitably slimy effects work alone warrants a watch by any fans of the body horror genre. Kudos to Begovic for creating pathos for a character who could be seen as a simple monster; it's just a shame that the dark sense of humour shown in the opening and closing stings is absent from the rest of the film.

Verdict
2.5/5




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