Friday, February 2, 2018

Women in Horror: Bite (2015)

* spoilers *

Soon to be married Casey goes on a trip to Costa Rica with her best friends as a bachelorette getaway. Drinking heavily and exploring the beautiful landscape are high on their list of things to do until Casey wakes up naked on the beach after a black out and she gets bitten by some sort of water creature. Once home, her insecurities intensify as her sores get infected and spread. Her body starts to change alarmingly while she tries to cling to normalcy.

Bite both taps into the societal expectations and treatment of women and features some uneven, unintentionally hilarious parts. Casey has cold feet about her upcoming wedding before she goes to Costa Rica. The most contentious issue is that she doesn't want kids while Jared and his mother expect it without discussion. She hasn't spoken to him about it and wants to avoid it as long as possible. For a trip meant to get away from her problems, it proves to worsen each one plus reveal cracks in her friendship. Once she returns home short a ring and plus a gross bug bite, Casey goes through the motions of being a loving girlfriend, but doesn't accomplish anything for the actual wedding or address her insecurities about the future to herself or to her boyfriend Jared. Beyond her love for dogs that simply serves as an early warning for her transformation, we are never shown her interests, her job, or anything about her beyond her ability to deny reality and avoid her problems.

The other people in her life are mostly caricatures meant to represent societal pressures. Jared's mother has outdated views of women. Women should stay in the home, take care of her husband, and only show a flawless facade. Sex is dirty and should only be saved for procreation and marriage. Obviously, she hates Casey and sees her as a flaky, selfish harlot who will destroy her son. Jared's mother is a cipher for the older generation's views of marriage and sexuality. Casey's two friends only see Jared's money and privilege, not factoring in his personality or their compatibility at all. Kirsten is a true friend and cares for Casey while Jill purposefully sets out to destroy her as competition. Kirsten and Jill represent Casey's generation where competition and privilege often overshadow friendship and happiness.

Jared himself may as well be Patrick Bateman. He's a high powered business man with no sympathy for anyone, rude comments about coworkers, and no tenderness or time for his fiancee. Working constantly, all of the things he has to say relate to his work and he never even thinks to ask her how she's doing or what she did that day. After she comes back from her trip, Casey resolves to have the painful conversation and makes dinner for him as a wife would. Instead, she becomes ill and initiates sex despite his protests that they should wait until marriage. Their tryst is interrupted by a boil erupting on her leg. Instead of showing concern or helping her clean up while she's obviously not feeling well, Jared opts to storm out, frustrated at the interruption and her rejection of him. As the film goes on, his emotions don't seem genuine and his actions are asinine. He's the most obvious caricature as he and his actions are very one dimensional and shallow.

When she begins her transformation, Casey sees boils and sores form all over her body filled with yellow pus and blood. Her hearing improves to an alarming degree, thick mucous forms in her mouth, and all over her body when she sleeps. Through all of this, she covers every sign of sickness with makeup or clothes. Everytime someone expresses concern for her, she insists that she's fine. Women are pressured to look their best, act happy, and smile at every public moment in their lives. This situation is more extreme than most, but that conditioned impulse doesn't go away. Casey doesn't call a doctor until she tests positive for pregnancy, either from her blacked out time in Costa Rica or from an incident with her fiance. As her transformation gets more and more severe, acid and supersonic screams spew from her mouth in addition to amber colored eggs that eventually coat most surfaces in her home. Her anxiety and distaste of pregnancy becomes a grotesque reality as all she does is produce an endless amount of eggs, a situation she never wanted. In this state, Casey kills multiple people on purpose and on accident, proving to be toxic to everyone as she coats her apartment in mucous and eggs.

This film has a lot to say about women and society, but some parts are not well done such as the Costa Rica trip, logic, and visual effects. Casey was raped while blacked out in Costa Rica in full view of Jill, who does nothing to stop it. The rape had no other significance beyond showing how horrible Casey's friends are, which could have been shown in a different way. The last third of the film has some unintentionally hilarious scenes that include Casey's supersonic scream causing Jill and Jared in the throes of lovemaking throw up on each other. I'll never know why anyone walks into that disgusting apartment. The smell and look of it should send people running away. I wish the tranformation of the apartment was a little more gradual. It looks normal one minute and then everything is coated with grime, mucous, and eggs all of a sudden. The CGI effects are incredibly bad and distract from the rest of the film.

Overall, Bite is a fun movie with amazing practical effects and a story that critiques how society treats women. Elma Begovic as Casey transformed from a pretty woman to a hybrid bug monstrosity convincingly despite the thin writing for the human character. Her apartment and her appearance reflect each other as each degrade and become unrecognizable. The ending is one of the best parts as a woman is bitten by one of Jared's bugs, showing that this doesn't end with Casey and her circle of friends; it effects all women. I loved even the cheesy parts and I will be revisiting this imperfect film in the future.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

No comments: