Bite is the only movie in my Black Fawn-a-thon (cute, right???) that I have enjoyed previously. And when I say enjoyed previously, I mean I’ve seen it probably 15 times. I love it. It is my equivalent of coffee and a newspaper on a Sunday morning. Except, you know…with a lot more goo. Like, a LOT more goo.
But before we get into the goo, let’s talk a little bit about what Bite is about. At the surface, Bite is body horror. It’s about a woman who goes on a tropical bachelorette party with two friends, and while swimming in a pool off the beaten path is bitten by an unseen insect friend. When she goes home, she starts to feel some side effects to this bug bite. And let me tell you, these side effects ain’t going away with some ice and calamine lotion.
As body horror, Bite is surprisingly effective. I went into it thinking it would be kind of like The Fly…high on psychological horror, but also pretty high on cheese. I was pleasantly horrified with what I saw. The things that happen to this poor woman’s body are straight up disgusting, and will instantly worm their way into any self-respecting horror fan’s heart. Sure there is a lot of goo, and a funny rash that looks like her skin is transforming into the equivalent of a beetle’s back, but there are some very, very creative things as well. Watching what is left of this poor woman sitting there spitting eggs into her hand repeatedly is highly, highly effective, and a lot of effects similar to this provide a level of shock value that I wasn’t expecting from such a basic trope. My kudos to actress Elma Begovic, who did an incredible job selling the disbelief and horror about what is happening to her. She deserves points as well in that I don’t know how many showers she had to take during the filming of this movie, but I’m guessing that the answer is somewhere between “a lot” and “ALL of the showers.”
I was also pleasantly surprised to find that there was more to the story than poor-little-pretty-girl-turns-into-hideous-creature. From the outset, there is much discussion at the bachelorette party about how she is getting married in a week to a very nice guy. Unfortunately, she is 100% sure that she is not ready to get married, and 110% sure that she doesn’t want kids, at least not yet.
At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. I was worried that the heroine would be made to seem “bitchy” or “catty.” It quickly became clear that this is not the case. She has dinner with her fiancé and you can see how she fell into this trap. He is the guy that everyone around her thought she should be with. And no offense to boyfriend Jared, but he is pretty vanilla (and her future mother-in-law is HORRIBLE). You start to sympathize with her early on – she is stuck in that she loves him, but they want different things, and she genuinely doesn’t want to hurt him.
And that’s when I realized what this movie REALLY was. It wasn’t about a woman transforming into a bug. Well, it is, but not just that. It’s about a woman trying hard to be something that she’s not to please everyone around her. As she starts to unravel and transform, she is also giving in to listening to herself and what she wants as well. In a horrifying way, her transformation allows her to put herself first.
And what a transformation it is! I know I’ve mentioned the goop, and eggs, but there is so much more, including insect sounds that start creeping in when you’re not expecting them. Well done, sound editing team!
On top of all this layered goodness, the third act has a great twist, and a climax that I did not see coming. It brilliantly exposes that human beings can treat each other like garbage. The end scene was gloriously gross, and immensely satisfying. The film has a clear finish, ending in a way that leaves it open for more, but doesn’t make you feel as if you are missing something.
Overall, Bite is an awesome indie flick that gets a solid A from me. A for goop, A for creativity, and A for a believable, female-centric horror film.
Tune in tomorrow night for another review in my Black Fawn-a-thon! Posting at 7PM Pacific Time.