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Dustin Putman

Bite  (2016)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2 Stars
(Release Date: August 2, 2016) – "Bite" is a slimily well-made creature feature undercut by its near-constant divorce from logic. When bride-to-be Casey (Emma Begovic) receives a mysterious bug bite while on a bachelorette vacation to Mexico with friends Jill (Annette Wozniak) and Kirsten (Denise Yuen), she doesn't think much of it until she returns home and discovers her wound has become infected. Casey is already having a bad week—she is guilt-stricken over a drunken one-night stand she had on her trip, her engagement ring has been stolen, and she is having second thoughts about her impending wedding—but it is about to get a whole lot worse as her body begins to transform into that of an insatiably fertile insect.

David Cronenberg's 1986 "The Fly" remake is an obvious point of inspiration for "Bite" director Chad Archibald (2015's "The Drownsman"), whose story has been adapted by Jayme Laforest. The film is as goopy, gross and horrific as it hopes to be, but the good will brought about by its auspicious make-up effects and the story's mounting dread can only go so far when the characters and their actions are implausible bordering on inane. When Casey becomes seriously ill and her bite turns to a puss-squirting boil, any sensible person would seek medical attention. It is only once her body starts mutating in even graver ways that she decides to casually call her physician; when no one answers, she doesn't think to go to a hospital or emergency care clinic. Meanwhile, friends and family drop by Casey's apartment and barely react to its metamorphosis into a giant, infested insect's lair complete with thousands of red egg sacks cascading in waves down walls and off tables. When his domineering mother (Lawrene Denkers), whom he lives with, goes missing, Casey's fiancé Jared (Jordan Gray) doesn't seem to notice. Despite living in the apartment next to Casey, he also doesn't bother to check on her for days and does not appear to hear the screams echoing from her walls during all hours.

Even when a movie's plot is far-fetched, it is crucial that its filmmakers treat it plausibly and pay the audience a modicum of respect; otherwise, how can viewers be asked to buy into the characters and the increasingly wacky goings-on surrounding them? "Bite" betrays this unspoken rule again and again, and it is a shame because so much of what is here is promising. Director Chad Archibald delights in churning stomachs and brings an unmistakable tension to the narrative. The film's use of horror-based metaphor to touch upon Casey's fears of entering into a marriage she is not sure is right for her is surprisingly involving, as well. Good will quickly turns to frustration, however, as plot holes mount and one's suspension of disbelief is stretched to the brink and beyond. It's no fun being astronomically smarter than every single dim-bulb character on the screen, and this is where "Bite" ultimately loses its way.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Bite" attacks Blu-ray with a capable 1080p presentation. The opening scenes are shot found-footage style, full of soft focus and blurring which comes with amateur shooting. The rest of the film is conventionally lensed, its digital photography pleasingly detailed as it drinks in every last grimy, drippy, slimy glaze which casts itself over Casey and her apartment. The picture's color scheme appropriately favors a brownish tint, but all colors come through well and black levels are solid. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio features some jolting surrounds, to the point where I had to reach for the volume button once or twice lest I be blown out of my seat. From the pulsating techno beat of an early nightclub scene to the bombastic music score to the cracks and clicking of Casey's body as her monstrous transformation nears completing, the sound mix is certainly propulsive. Dialogue is fortunately not compromised, either, always intelligible and evenly modulated.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with director Chad Archibald and producers Cody Calahan and Christopher Giroux
  • "Makeup" Featurette (5:42, HD)
  • "On Set" Featurette (6:02, HD)
  • "Fantasia" Featurette (5:53, HD)
  • "Chad's Wedding" Featurette (5:16, HD)
  • "Dominican" Featurette (5:30, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:23, HD)
Bottom Line
"Bite" received a limited theatrical release from Scream Factory prior to its Blu-ray debut, and it is easy to imagine how such a gross-out film could play well with a large horror audience. Unfortunately, thinking more deeply about the picture for any period of time reveals unavoidable flaws in its screenplay and construction. The lead character is irksome for never actively seeking help, while the rest of the victims-to-be around her are so dense they basically cause their own demises. Those who can shut their brains off will be more receptive to the lurid pleasures "Bite" has to offer. For them, this nice-looking, even-better-sounding Blu-ray offers a nice little plethora of extras, and is recommended.

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© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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