Back in 2013, I attended Denver, Colorado’s Mile High Horror Film Festival, and sat down to watch the film Septic Man. With a storyline that surrounded one sewage system worker’s journey into a septic tank filled with disease-riddled water and ‘becoming’ a man, covered in feces, turning into some sort of putrid underground sewer creature, I have to say I was disgusted. After the lights came up, my lunch that day almost did as well, and I vowed to steer clear from any body morphing horror creature features. However, this year’s 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival is premiering the horror film Bite and, although I was hesitant to screen this one, I made sure my stomach was empty, got cozy in my seat, and was ready to hide my eyes with my hands (which I did several times throughout this flick).
The film centers around a young girl named Casey, played fantastically by newbie Elma Begovic. She’s on vacation with two other girls: best friend Kirsten (Denise Yeun) and fake friend Jill (Annette Wozniak). They drink, they flirt with the locals, and, just like most people who are about to get married, Casey is having second thoughts about her impending marriage. Not only will she gain one hell of a bitchy mother-in-law, but her fiancé Jared (Jordan Gray) already has a pregnancy plan for Casey. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? Yeah, Casey doesn’t think so either. So, away she goes with her friends, in search for some adventure and, when a local points them towards a non-touristy lagoon (referencing the Sea of Stars, which is actually located on the Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives). They splash, they joke, and (eventually) Casey is bit by something in the water (get it? Bite!).
Thus begins our poor protagonist’s spiral into insect hell and this also signaled my time to cover my eyes throughout the remainder of the film because things start to get kinda groody. You would think with an 86 minute running time, Bite would drag just a bit with such a simplistic plot outline. You would be wrong.
By the 20 minute mark, we see Casey vomiting clear sticky mucus after watching (and hearing) her fiancé engulf his dinner. Which, side note: his table manners were atrocious and made me sick.
By 38 minutes: Casey has developed a heightened sense of hearing and begins sleeping in a bathtub (filled with some sort of brown goo that’s secreting from her body). As with many of the other critics who reviewed this film, I have to agree that this film evokes Cronenberg’s The Fly. However, I am willing to go out on a limb to say that Mr. Archibald’s direction on Casey’s metamorphosis is eerily entrancing. Combined with Ms. Begovic’s performance (the head ticks, the seemingly inability to blink, the animalistic hunger in her eyes), Bite tugs together the film’s sickest disturbances and it’s storytelling of, what is really, a scared girl, needing to finally emote.
This film honestly has everything a thriller/suspense/horror person could EVER want and I really hope Chad Archibald doesn’t make a sequel (please do not make a sequel to this). This film “bit” me in the best way. I cannot tell you how much I loved this film. This is EXACTLY what horror is supposed to be. If Cronenberg’s The Fly mated with Phillipe Mora’s The Beast Within, Archibald’s Casey would be their love child.