The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"BITE"

Bite

Bite is one of the grossest movies I've ever seen, and I mean that as a compliment. There are really two types of cinematic grossness. The first, and lesser kind is grossness just for the sake of being gross. The second, better kind involves being gross because it adds something crucial to the impact of the story. That's what we're talking about here. There are some pretty substantial flaws in Bite, but it gets the most important thing exactly right.

The movie opens with vacation footage of Casey (Elma Begovic) and her best friends Jill (Annette Wozniak) and Kirsten (Denise Yuen) on a bachelorette getaway to a tropical paradise. They drink, party, and sunbathe. During a dip in some out-of-the-way waters, Casey is bitten by something. Once back home, she starts developing oozing sores all over her body. Casey attempts to hide them from her fiancee Jared (Jordan Gray) and her controlling future mother-in-law (Lawrene Denkers), but they keep getting bigger and more inflamed. It quickly becomes clear – to her and to us – that she is transforming into some sort of insect. Her apartment evolves into a hive where she guards the thousands of translucent eggs she keeps laying.

Bite is pretty clearly a low-budget production, but director Chad Archibald sure didn't skimp on the effects. The manner in which the film depicts Casey's transformation is suitably disgusting. Every gradual stage is more disturbing than the one before. By the time she goes full bug, it's almost uncomfortable to watch. Even better is the way her whole apartment is covered with little eggs. They drip off every imaginable surface, and there are so many of them that Casey can hardly move without crushing some. During the third act, a number of important people in her life come to the apartment to see why she's been MIA. They discover the full horror of what's happening, which leads to more gross things. Elma Begovic is very good in the lead role. She adds tics, twitches, and weird vocal noises to her performance the more Casey changes. The actress also deserves kudos for enduring what would certainly have to be an unpleasant makeup experience to get into “costume.”

As great as all that stuff is, Bite is lacking pretty much everywhere else. Begovic aside, the acting is incredibly amateurish. The characters are one-dimensional, which, in fairness, doesn't give the actors much with which to work. Each character has one trait that is played over and over. Jared is self-absorbed, for instance, while his mother is brought in periodically to be snootily condescending. Because they have no depth, the story screeches to a dead halt whenever it's not focused specifically on Casey's physical crisis. The dialogue, meanwhile, is clunky and too on-the-nose. Archibald's direction is flat in the traditional scenes; only in the full-on horror moments does it come a little more alive.

All in all, it depends on what you're looking for. The superb practical effects and overall gross-out factor give Bite some undeniable kick. It's creepy, and the way Casey turns into a bug absolutely gets under your skin. But if you want a well-rounded horror film that has more going on than a serious ick factor, this one comes up a bit lacking.

( 1/2 out of four)


Bite is unrated, but contains language, sexual content, and extreme gore. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.


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