Digital Dismemberment: Bite Movie Review
Director: Chad Archibald
Producer: Chad Archibald, Nat Abraham, Tim Brown, Cody Calahan, Christopher Giroux, Ira Levy, Jeff Maher, Michael McGuigan, James O’Donnell, Audrey Velichka and Peter Williamson
Special FX: Jason Derushie, Mason Derushie, Moira Garr and Ariana Roberts
Cast: Elma Begovic (Casey), Annette Wozniak (Jill), Jordan Gray (Jared), Lawrene Denkers (Mrs. Kennedy), Denise Yuen (Kirsten), Tianna Nori (Joanne), Caroline Palmer (Hannah) and Kayla Burgess (Jessica)
Released By: Scream Factory
Release Date: May 6, 2016 (VOD and Limited Release)
The Premise: 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.
Body transformation/disease films are by no means something new to the genre, with the scares and shocks being as much psychological as well as physical. While many films in this sub-genre tend to be much more of the physical gross-out variety (and rightfully so), few manage to bring the horrifying mental aspects to the same level of exploitation. Thankfully, Director Chad Archibald manages to blend both together to bring us a film that makes the stomach churn AND the mind bend at the same time. Blending elements of such classics as Rabid (1977), Contracted (2013), The Beast Within (1982), Bug (2006) and The Fly (1986), Bite is smartly pieced together in a way that makes you care about the characters and the situation they find themselves to be involved in. While the opening minutes may make some think this is a found footage film, the film gloriously transforms into a well shot and slick production that actually builds the tension in a way that will have you captivated all of the way through. The film is much more than a gorefest however, and even manages to communicate the fears of commitment and child birth as well as the betrayal of trust from those thought to be good friends and loved ones. It even manages to bring the hardships involved with dealing with future in-laws that can’t stop interfering in business that they do not belong in…
Shot on Red Digital camera, the film looks very slick without becoming too glossy. Beautiful scenes are shot in what appears to be a tropical location and they look very lush and relaxing, while the scenes that take place in the city have a certain washed out variance to them. Great attention is payed to the lighting (which really comes into place once the apartment is changed into the “hive”) and in particular to the sound (the sound effects are extremely nerve wracking and make you feel like you have bugs crawling all over you at times). In fact, the quality of the sound and all of the small things that went into it help to create the insectile atmosphere while the lead character is going through her transformation. Set design is something to marvel at as well. The transformation of Casey’s apartment from a city dwelling into her “hive” is quite stunning and makes it as much of a character as any of the actors. The actual structural breakdown of the apartment to “hive” is quite jarring and in a way highlights not only the physical changes Casey is going through, but also highlights the mental anguish of her personal life and decisions. Claustrophobic and foreboding is certainly the best way to describe it…
Speaking of the transformation, the Special FX are really something to behold as well. As I stated before, this sub-genre is known for producing films that will turn even the strongest of stomachs, and no punches were pulled with this. Gnarly abscesses with pus, flesh melting bile, slime encrusted eggs and various flesh penetrating scenes begin to dazzle you over the last 2/3’s of the film, topped off with a slow but painful to watch transformation of Casey from human to insect-like creature. Even as her skin begins to molt and she begins to develop insect like abilities, there is a balance there keeping part of her humanity intact. She loses her hair, her eyes become more reflective, her hearing becomes acute to the point of being painful and her fingers even begin to grow and elongate into bony-like protrusions. She even grows what appears to be a tail with a stinger, which she uses for various purposes. All through this, the majority of the make-up is practical FX with very little digital used (and what digital that was used is so well done that it does not subtract from your suspension of disbelief).
The real key to all of this is the amazing cast. Casey, played by Elma Begovic, does a FANTASTIC job of playing the every day modern woman from the city with doubts about marriage. Never once does her performance feel forced or rushed. Her feelings of horror as she begins to change feel real and give a depth of emotion that is missing from many genre films today. Her movements become much more insectile as the movie goes on, especially her nervous head movements and her ability to move about quietly. Jordan Gray, who plays her fiancée Jared, is the perfect foil. Playing the role of the good looking and successful love interest may sound easy, but he brings a certain coolness to the role that never makes it seem forced as many on screen relationships do. He also plays the role of the dutiful son well, never sheepish, but trying to keep the peace between his mother and Casey. Denise Yuen (Kirsten) and Annette Wozniak (Jill) are opposite ends of the friend spectrum, one being the faithful and honest friend and the other playing the conniving back-stabber. Their roles in everything that happens may at first seem minuscule, but as the film goes on, they really help to bring the emotional level of the film to higher places. These are all actors and actresses to keep an eye on as they go forward in their careers…
Overall, this is a film that delivers on many levels and one that should be praised as one that raises the bar for indie genre films. Never once insulting your intelligence or cheating the viewer along the way, this could be a film that achieves cult status over the years and certainly warrants multiple viewing to catch all of the small nuances that are peppered through it. Kudos the Scream Factory for finding this one and putting in front of the eyes of the genre crowd! I am looking forward to seeing this released to Blu-Ray/DVD and HIGHLY encourage you to catch this in theaters if you are fortunate enough to have it playing in your city. If not, VOD is a great option to see this film as well!
Movie Rating: 4 out 5
OPENS IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND MAY 6th, 2016.
Columbus, OH – Gateway Film Center
Gainesville, FL – Cyclops Cinema
Los Angeles, CA – Laemmle – Monica Film Center
Phoenix, AZ – FilmBar
Winchester, VA – Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Bloomington, MN – Theatres at Mall of America
Available on Digital HD on:
Also check your “On Demand” menu on: