Chad Archibald has a number of notable titles under his belt as a producer with titles such as “Sweet Karma”, “In the House of Flies”, “Antisocial” and “Septic Man” to just name a few. While his filmography as a director is significantly smaller, there’s enough there for some of our readers to have seen his work even though I have not. Going by his producer credits, I was excited to dig into his new body horror movie “Bite”.
Casey comes home from a bachelorette trip only a few days prior to the wedding. Some things that happened on the trip are still lingering on her mind, making her anxious and giving her cold feet before the wedding. But worst of all is a seemingly harmless bite that she got while in the water. The bug bite starts to grow. Soon she has a big boil of pus on her leg, and things about to get even worse. She hears things as if they are just beside her. She’s spewing out translucent eggs. Yes, it escalates from here.
You’ve likely heard about “Bite” from the articles about the people who puked and fainted. I have no plans to make my review a comment on someone’s article – but while “Bite” definitely has gross things going on, it’s unlikely to affect anyone but those with pretty weak stomachs. What we see in “Bite” is nothing new, especially now as we have gotten a few too many body horrors involving women who start to transform. But most of all, “Bite” is a movie about a woman turning into something insect-like, and it is still miles away from the grossness portrayed in Cronenberg’s “The Fly”.
If we leave the comparisons for a second and just look at what this movie has to offer, there are certainly some gross scenes involving puke, pus and slimy eggs coming out of orifices. Unfortunately the transformation that Casey is about to experience never really goes beyond some layers or slime and bruises – at the very most looking like a burn victim. The apartment which essentially turns into her hive is an interesting addition that the other body horrors didn’t really have, mostly because Casey does indeed turn into an insect being. However, the “hive” looks more like a haunted house attraction. In fact there are just a few scenes in the movie where the effects are really effective.
Normally decent effects that would be just fine, but the recent trend of body horrors has seemed more like show reels of effects, or competitions between each other. “Bite” doesn’t have much more to offer than its goo and pus, which certainly puts it far below a classic like the “The Fly”. More recently I’d put it up against “Thanatomorphose”, which didn’t have too much going on outside of its effects either – but that one actually felt disgusting.
Okay, let’s put the effects to the side for a moment. The reason I am so harsh against this movie is that it simply doesn’t stand out. From the beginning I had a hard time feeling sympathy for any of the characters, let alone Casey. There were no reasons for us to really care for the majority of the movie, and when reasons were given it sort of felt like it was too late. Her fiancé was okay but due to his annoying mother and the relationship they had he got dragged down with it. So right there we have two characters with a tragedy between them (her transformation), and yet I feel incredibly untouched by it. I don’t really have any grudge again the actors, there were certainly fine, but the direction they were given was often very underwhelming. Scenes like them stumbling into Casey’s hive of an apartment show some severe underreacting to what is going on. It’s a horror movie, I get it – they need to walk into her apartment and have some stuff happen to them, but their reactions threw me out of the movie entirely. Going by the fact that it happened to most characters and not just one, I will say it’s the fault of the direction and not the actors.
There are some smaller things that I could dive into, but I don’t want anyone to confuse my criticism with hate. Fact is, “Bite” is a pretty innocent horror movie. It seems to have the attitude that it wants to gross you out, but beyond that it doesn’t step outside of many boundaries. It’s a decent enough horror movie for the general fan to check out, especially if you haven’t watched that many body horror movies. As a fan of the subgenre I will continue to watch what will come my way, but perhaps it is time to retire the transforming women for a while? The best body horror movies are rather complex and show a wide variety of talents. David Cronenberg built much of his fan base on the fact that he could deliver something incredibly gross, but at the same time very thought-provoking. We live in a time where everything has to be fast and over-the-top to satisfy this ADD generation, so it makes sense that the majority of new body horror movies focus solely on the disturbing effects. Personally I hope we can go back to when body and mind were equally important in the matter.