While on her bachelorette party getaway, Casey, the bride to be, gets a seemingly harmless bite from an unknown insect. After returning home with cold feet, Casey tries to call off her wedding but before she’s able to, she starts exhibiting insect like traits. Between her physical transformation and her wedding anxiety, Casey succumbs to her new instincts and begins creating a hive that not only houses her translucent eggs, but feeds on the flesh of others. As her transformation becomes complete, Casey discovers that everything can change with a single bite.
Bride to be Casey (Elma Begovic) is having serious cold feet about her marriage to Jared (Jordan Gray); a well to do man who doesn’t want to have sex with his fiancée because his mum told him not to. She maybe fearing that she’s making the worst mistake of her life, but that’s no reason not to go on a fun filled, booze fueled hen party abroad! Amirite!? Let’s got girls!
Starting off in the same manner as a found footage horror, we follow Casey and her bridesmaids, Jill (Annette Wozniak) and Kirsten (Denise Yuen), as they party hard abroad. Clearly not understanding the concept of high quality insect repellent, Casey gets bitten by something unseen whilst swimming in a lake, and that’s when things start to go awry.
Dropping the found footage style once the party returns home, Bite, directed and written by Chad Archibald, follows Casey as she begins the countdown to her nuptials. If she seemed unsure before the trip, she really doesn’t seem to want to tie the knot now she’s back on home turf. Something has happened to her, outside of the bug bite, and she is struggling to cope in the aftermath. But there’s also the little matter of the pulsating, puss-filled bite that won’t go away. Soon, Casey’s hair is falling out, she’s sneezing acid and her skin is in need of a good face scrub.
We learn from Casey that during the holiday, she woke up after a night out, naked on the beach, with no idea how she got there. Video evidence suggests that it may be down to the guy providing her with copious amounts of drinks. Kirsten wants to support her friend, whilst Jill translates what happened to Casey as a nothing more than one last booty call. Regardless of their differing opinions, Casey’s mutation means she closes herself off from her friends and her fiancée. In essence, Bite is body horror used as sexual assault allegory. With no one able to understand what she is going through, Casey’s behavior is painted as avoidance and a severing of ties. What she really needs, aside from a damn good doctor, is more support and less victim blaming.
Once we get into the third act though, all social messaging is dropped in favor of insane imagery and gore, that sees corpses dissolving in the bathroom and dreams of people crushing Casey’s larvae, screaming ‘BABIES! BABIES! BABIES!’ In effect, Bite becomes a spiritual sequel to The Fly. The Bride of Brundle-Fly if you will.
And whilst the film, by this point, is still nauseating and entertaining enough, it works better for me when it was trying to say something. It’s as if Bite doesn’t trust itself enough to stick with its deeper meaning; somehow fearing that its audience will run away hiding in fear of being sold something other than guilt-free gore. And it really shouldn’t, because its initial instincts are what makes it stand above the usual horror fare. It’s what worked for films like American Mary, Eat and Excess Flesh. The horror is often what drives the point home the hardest.
That aside, Archibald offers a competently constructed horror that belies its low budget. He very rarely lets Casey out of our sight, but on the odd occasion he does, we return to something more monstrous than before. As Casey mutates, so too does her apartment. Starting off fairly well-kept it becomes a literal cesspit in which Casey buries herself to hide. At this point I should mention, Begovic who goes from being cute and bouncy, to disfigured and corrupt rather easily, and still manages to help Casey maintain her humanity. Even when she’s melting faces.
Whilst it struggles to get very deep in its final act, Bite certainly has enough to chew on in its initial setup to get you through the moment when all bets are off and it descends into the puke drenched body horror you probably expected it to be.
- Audio Commentary From Writer/Director/Producer Chad Archibald
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