Director Chad Archibald last came to my attention with a horror movie entitled The Drownsman. That was not a good film. Bite, on the other hand, really is. But it could have been much better. Still, it’s good to see Archibald taking steps in the right direction.
Elma Begovic plays Casey, a bride to be who ends up bitten by a bug while enjoying her bachelorette party. Once home, the bite starts to develop from an irritation into something more serious. Is it changing Casey, or is she overreacting? And will she compose herself in time to continue planning the wedding with her partner (Jordan Gray) and his meddlesome mother (Lawrene Denkers)?
The main problems with Bite stem from the clumsy character sketches that crop up during the first act, although most of these are somewhat redeemed by the finale, and the fact that it feels far too similar to The Fly. I know that may seem unfair, and I tried to watch this film without constantly thinking about that one, but it’s an ever-present shadow cast over the proceedings. This is especially notable in regards to the lead performance; Begovic is absolutely fine in the role, she’s just no match for the twitchy, insectoid, performance we got from Jeff Goldlum.
There are also problems here that aren’t really the fault of the film. Bite came along with a trail of publicity that played up some extreme audience reactions, from fainting to vomiting. I, and many other horror fans, have long since grown used to not believing the hype. In fact, it’s often the case that the more hyperbole you hear/read, the worse the movie. While this is an enjoyably gross film, at times, and while Archibald has fun with the nastiness of the central concept, there’s very little here to warrant such overreactions. Again, I have to reiterate that this isn’t exactly the fault of the film itself, but it does lead to viewers wondering how much more could have been packed in to test hardier horror fans.
Gray and Denkers do well with what they’re given, with Denkers set up for a satisfying role that never really pays off, while Annette Wozniak and Denise Yuen are both enjoyable enough as two friends of Casey, with one being more of a true friend than the other. But it’s Begovic who carries most of the film, and she deserves praise for her performance and willingness to endure some undoubtedly lengthy sessions having make-up applied. (even if she’s no Goldblum – then again, who is?)
If Chad Archibald continues on this upward path then his next movie could be something great. This one is good, especially if you’re more forgiving and able to overlook some of the weaknesses, as I was.
DIRECTOR: CHAD ARCHIBALD
WRITER: CHAD ARCHIBALD, JAYME LAFOREST
STARS: ELMA BEGOVIC, JORDAN GRAY, LAWRENE DENKERS, ANNETTE WOZNIAK, DENISE YUEN
RUNTIME: 88 MINS APPROX
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