'Bite': Film Review

BITE Still - H 2016
Courtesy Black Fawn Films & Breakthrough Entertainment
Not very appetitzing, but scary enough to please genre fans.

A young woman undergoes a startling bodily transformation after suffering a bug bite in Chad Archibald's gross-out horror film.

You'll be stocking up on bug spray after watching Chad Archibald's horror film about a young woman who undergoes a horrific bodily transformation after a seemingly innocuous insect bite. A cautionary tale for anyone tempted to bathe in an off-the-beaten-track swimming hole, Bite is icky fun despite being undeniably formulaic and derivative.

The story begins with bride-to-be Casey (Elma Begovic) enjoying a rollicking, pre-wedding holiday in Costa Rica with her friends Jill (Annette Wozniak) and Kirsten (Denise Yuen). (This lengthy opening sequence is presented in annoying found-footage style, but, fortunately, the pic settles into more conventional storytelling shortly after.)

Swimming in the aforementioned hidden spot after receiving an invitation from a cute native guy, Casey suffers a bug bite that she assumes is harmless. More problematically, she awakens the next morning on the beach, having no memory of what happened and discovering that her expensive engagement ring is gone.

Returning home to the apartment building in which her investment banker fiancé Jared (Jordan Grey) and his overbearing, hostile mother (Lawrene Denkers) also live, Casey begins experiencing cold feet about her impending nuptials, especially when Jared presents her with the gift of an antique high-chair for the future child that she hasn't told him she doesn't want.

But her anxieties pale in comparison to the physical changes to her body, such as when her skin begins peeling off, she vomits acid and begins excreting countless translucent eggs, turning her apartment into a giant, slimy hive. Even the neighbor's dog won't go anywhere near her.

Not surprisingly, Casey's mood doesn't exactly improve as she becomes more and more buglike, especially when she finds Jared in a romantic clinch with one of her friends.

Clearly indebted to David Cronenberg's The Fly among other predecessors, Bite never achieves the same level of metaphorical depth or emotional pathos. But Archibald achieves a lot with a low budget, with the elaborate makeup, production design and special effects vividly conveying the central character's gruesome physiological alteration and its aftereffects. Horror fans will find much to appreciate here, even if the Costa Rican tourist board may feel otherwise. 

Distributor: Shout! Factory Films
Production: Black Fawn Films, Breakthrough Entertainment
Cast: Elma Begovic, Annette Wozniak, Denise Yuen, Jordan Gray, Lawrence Denkers
Director: Chad Archibald
Screenwriter: Jayme Laforest
Producers: Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan, Christopher Giroux
Executive producers: Nat Abraham, Tim J. Brown, Ira Levy, Michael McGuigan, Peter Williamson
Director of photography: Jeff Maher
Production designer: Vincent Moskowec
Editor: Nick Montgomery
Composer: Stephanie Copeland
Casting: Ashley Hallihan

Not rated, 88 minutes