This was it, the moment of truth. I was finally going to watch Bite, the film so gruesome that it made, rumor has it, people ill in previous screenings. Will this homage to great body horror films have the same effect on the seasoned Blood in the Snow (BITS) audience? Only time will tell. Regardless, viewers are definitely in for a treat. Bite takes our normal fears and ramps them up to an all-time gross-out high.

The film follows Casey (Elma Begovic), Jill (Annette Wozniak) and Kristen (Denise Yuen) as they head to Costa Rica for Casey’s bachelorette. They drink, party and stagger about getting their pre-wedding ya-yas out. When they get wind of a secluded beach, they initially think they have hit the jackpot. Of course the fun comes to an end when Casey gets a mysterious bug bite. As questions of betrayal surface amongst the women, and the bride-to-be expresses doubts about getting married to Jared (Jordan Gray), who is ruled by his mean and overbearing mother (Lawrene Denkers), Casey descends into a deadly and grotesque transformation that will jeopardize anyone who comes in contact with her.

Amidst all the festival hype, I had heard Bite was a good horror film, but I didn’t expect it to be such a gore entrenched treat. This body horror is definitely one of the highlights of the BITS lineup. The simple, well-written storyline conjured up by director Chad Archibald and writer Jayme LaForest is effective because it plays to a common occurrence in everyday life. Bug bites happen every day, and adding an exotic locale only heightens the possibilities for terror further. It allows Archibald to not only play with urban legend, but also makes the audience feel as if they are living a hypochondriac’s worst nightmare.

Having doubt before a wedding is normal but, in this film, every little nuance has a deeper meaning as Casey turns from jittery bride to a skittering monster. Speaking of monsters, the practical effects used in the film were gross-out good. The gallons of goo required used to create Casey’s insect lair, and the monstrous roe dripping from every surface (and orifice), is both disgusting and chilling. My hat goes off to Begovic who still manages to deliver a great and effective performance while covered in the sticky substance for most of the second half of the film. She really sells Casey’s transition from confused woman to vengeful predator.

Bite may conjure up visions of Cronenberg in terms of how it approaches body horror, but Archibald ensures that the film leaves its own distinct mark in the genre. The film is a creepy, gory, and gooey crowd-pleaser, and yes, I think you all can handle it.

Sunday, November 29, 4:30 PM, Carlton Cinemas
Sunday, November 29, 7:00 PM, Carlton Cinemas

Tickets can be purchased at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival website.


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