Fantasia Fest 2015: Bite (2015)

Black Fawn Films has been on fire with tons of horror.  The year before last, it was Antisocial.  Last year, it was responsible for The Drownsman.  This year, other than Antisocial 2 (which I will review next), its Bite.  The love and passion for horror is fully apparent in the producers and directors at Black Fawn Films.  The Drownsman aimed to bring in a new memorable figure just like how Jason and Michael Myers was supposed to do and for Bite, it is at the level of David Cronenberg’s The Fly (which I haven’t seen).  Regardless, I chose this film because despite having a little issue with The Drownsman, there is no doubt that director Chad Archibald is really great at doing horror and for all that passion I see during last year’s Q&A, I would go see whatever other projects him and his company will release.  So there I was, lining up super early, because I had nothing else to do, at the world premiere of Bite.

Right before the movie, we get a little gift handed out to us and I tweeted about it.

Official Bite Barf Bag

Official Bite Barf Bag, includes: promotional card for Bite and Antisocial 2 and 2 mints

That was a thing and it made me a little worried about what to expect.  I usually can stomach pretty gruesome things but really? A barf bag? At least it got me mentally prepared 😉

Bite (2015)

World premiere


Director: Chad Archibald

Cast: Elma Begovic, Denise Yuen, Annette Wozniak, Jordan Gray, Lawrene Denkers

Casey (Elma Begovic) going away with her two girl friends Kirsten (Denise Yuen) and Jill (Annette Wozniak) to Costa Rica for her bachelorette party.  While exploring there, she gets bitten by something in the water.  When she gets home, what seemed like a small bite starts to get infected and worsen.  Soon, she starts feeling a change.  These changes intensifies as her fear for getting married with her fiance Jared (Jordan Gray) shadow over her.

I’m sure that whole disgusting thing is looming in the background of your heads after the whole barf bag gift so I’m going to start with that.  While I don’t know if it was related to the movie or just the massive heat wave we had last week, I do know that one girl seemed like she wasn’t doing well as she exited the theatre after the first scene or two that was pretty stomach-turning.  At the end of the show, they were saying that 3 people left and paramedics had to come.  I sure hope they are doing alright but yes, while I didn’t need to use my barf bag, there were a few scenes that it was so revolting that I resulted to taking off my glasses for one or two scenes and turned away for a few seconds in the earlier ones.  If that was their goal, applause to them, hell, even standing ovation to a phenomenal job!


Consider that part more of a warning of what to expect than my criticizing it because Bite was a very good horror movie.  It starts off in a pretty mellow way to set up the situation of how Casey and her feelings towards her upcoming wedding and her dynamics with her friends and their personality.  It gives us hints of what will happen.  Being away only took a little bit of time but being back in her place, it doesn’t have a lot of places that it moves around from.  Casey and her apartment building is where mostly everything happens and that location has a really nice atmosphere to it (even though the exterior of that building makes me question its believability as a residential building).  The atmosphere is what I love the most about Chad Archibald’s work, even in The Drownsman last year.  This one has a rather sombre texture to every scene, especially when Casey starts her transformation.  That whole set of her apartment is a work of art in the third act in all its super nauseating and creepy way.

I guess the only thing I can rag on about Bite is the dialogue.  Its not exactly engaging and it can be too much.  The opening sequence was a little bit of burden and I got a little worried we had entered into the found footage film which only applied to that first little bit in the exotic getaway part where they were setting up the stage.

While, the best parts is in some very good performances from the cast.  The very successfully mean future mother in law was done in the most convincingly nasty way that you will hate everything about her.  Casey was portrayed very well by Elma Begovic.  The whole physical transformation and the things she does, her reactions are really awesome.  She was able to embrace the character from emotional fear to the physical changes. As for the other characters, the best friends have this balance of good and bad while the fiance, and I honestly believe his character was meant to be like this, a little frustrating and kind of a jerk. But that is the character and everyone fit well in their spots so I’m happy with it.


Q&A Session

Overall, Bite is a very good horror film. The cast was great at letting us know the characters in this story especially Elma Begovic as the main character Casey. While the first act isn’t quite as solid, it picks itself up in the second act and excels in the third act.  The atmosphere and particularly the set is done very well.  One of the most outstanding features is in the incredible set transformation and also Casey’s transformation from the after effects of the bite.  Its a slimy, gooey and very disgusting movie but if you can stomach it, you definitely should give this a go! 🙂

Thoughts on Bite?

Fantasia Film Festival 2014: The Drownsman (2014) & Picket (short 2014)

I personally think that if you go to Fantasia Film Festival and skip out on horror genre, which probably takes up a good portion of the film selections, you really are missing out.  Sometimes, you find all sorts of gems here.  I know I did.  One of my most anticipated one and probably one that the trailer scared me a whole lot was The Drownsman.  The trailer was so creepy that I didn’t even finishing watching it.  However, my boyfriend did and since he was going to go with me, he told me that it looked great so I bought the tickets to see the World Premiere of this.

The Drownsman is from the director of last year’s rather popular selection Antisocial, which I did not get a chance to see because it was at this weird 4pm showing or something and I couldn’t get off work.  I did end up buying the movie recently and trying to find time to give it a viewing.

Before The Drownsman, we had a 5 minute short to start called The Picket, directed, written and produced by Izzy Lee.


Its a 5 minute short about a church cult leader going to make a deal to be met with a surprise. I don’t really have much to say about it since its so short.  The surprise was a bit funny, but they did built up the tension pretty well.  Good use of background music/effects 😉

Going on to the main feature, lets start with a little synopsis!

the drownsmanDirector: Chad Archibald

Cast: Michelle Mylett, Caroline Korycki, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss, Clare Bastable, Ry Barrett

Madison (Michelle Mylett) goes through an accident that causes her to have a sudden hydrophobia.  This phobia intensifies when she keeps having nightmares of seeing a mysterious and creepy man capturing and drowning women.  It also causes her to trap herself in her own house and avoid all means of water including rain and the like, hindering her everyday life.  After her go through this torture for an entire year, her best friends decide to have an intervention and decides to reach out to this possibly dead man’s spirit to resolve the issues and end the haunting.  Except they end up waking up something worse than they ever could imagine or even believe existed in the first place.

the drownsman

The Drownsman aims to give us the next creepy man that the 80s horror gave us from Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers.  At least, thats what I got from Chad Archibald during the Q&A.  There is no doubt that he does a good job at building up the creepy appearance of The Drownsman.  That man is all creepy as we are kept in the dark as to what this man looks like.  You remember, The Ring, how we never knew what Samara looks like after her crawling out of the well until that moment.  Then we get the chilling factor of what she looks like.  We’re on that sort of level right here.  The Drownsman had a good few effective scares and even though this was low budget (and the director talks about that over and over again), I appreciated the effort that was put into this.  Listening to the passion put into this movie from him and his crew, it really adds some value and meaning to a movie.  Through and through, this is a passion project. One with a lot of water!

The Drownsman

The Drownsman held a good cast.  I liked the girls that played each role as they created a balance to each other personality-wise.  There was a friendship thing going on and the story behind it was pretty legit relating to Madison and these nightmares that haunt her.  The whole thing is done well.  The guy who gets all heavily made up to be The Drownsman didn’t have much to say but he was pretty creepy in my books (but then my getting scared is really not saying a lot). What helped this movie was setting the most eerie atmosphere and the location set for the actual place where The Drownsman was intense.  The good use of darkness, sudden thrills and eerie music really built up the perfect mood.

The Drownsman

After everything that worked, there’s just one thing that didn’t work too well for me.  Its really two things but its linked to each other.  That has to do with the continuity and repetitiveness of how the story is carried out.  The Drownsman is not a very long movie for starters and in many cases, that is a good thing, even a great thing because you get straight to the point and there’s no lingering.  Except, in this case, I might have wanted some lingering.  The scenes were very choppy from one to the next and the whole thing of how the girls get caught up in being haunted by The Drownsman starts getting really predictable because it just cuts from one to the next then to the next event.  There was nothing to link it and it seemed to be rushed a little.  So all in all, this all comes down to how I would have liked to see a better execution.  Maybe there was a little bit too many scenes cut during the editing process.  I really don’t know.  The director did say during the Q&A that there are whole lot of scenes cut from the original and thats available to see when you order the movie online when its available at some site.  I need to review the recording of the Q&A to check that out. Now, that has me intrigued and I’m definitely going to try and get my hands on a copy of that whenever it comes out 🙂

the drownsman

Overall, The Drownsman is a decent horror flick.  They have great cinematography, music, effects and a potentially great horror boogeyman for the new generation.  The only issue was the execution and perhaps editing too much out of what could’ve been a story that flowed slightly better with less repetitions.  Still, some parts caught me at the edge of my seat.  The cast is fantastic and you can tell that everyone involved was wildly passionate about this movie from start to finish.  Although parts of the middle chunk isn’t quite as effective, the beginning built up the mood pretty well and ending 20 minutes was totally awesome! 🙂 The premise and concept was great but it still misses the mark by , however, there was only the little bits in the middle that bothered me so I’d say that its worth a shot!

Have you heard of The Drownsman? Seen the trailer perhaps? What do you think of it? Would you want to go see this?