Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bite marks – review

Director: Mark Bessenger

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

The first thing to mention is that Bite Marks is a gay interest film. I mention this mainly because I have said in the past that many gay horror films miss the point as they tend to miss out the horror element. This doesn’t, Bessenger has kept the horror element firmly intact. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t terrifying (though how many truly are?), because it is also a comedy and walks that precarious horror/comedy line really well.

Stephen Geoffreys as Walsh
It begins with a truck and Walsh (Stephen Geoffreys, Fright Night) is dropped off by his wife, as he is due to do a delivery. Muttering about the pitiable state of his lunch pail he hears a noise from the back of the truck. He opens her up and sees nothing in the dark and so climbs in. We hear his screams, his apple rolls out of the truck with bite marks in it and blood pours…

animated credit sequence
Now here I am going to have to add a spoiler because we will soon find out that Walsh’s brother is called Brewster (Benjamin Lutz) and so every genre fan worth their salt is going to be waiting for the return of Walsh as a vampire (that’s not much of a spoiler, he’s in the trailer) and the utterance of a certain line… It does happen, and I can imagine the applause in a screening at that point. The film actually is rather referential to the horror genre generally; in-dialogue comparison of the Dawn of the Dead versions, a mention of Hammer and even a Fright Night quip. I thought these, especially the punchline to the Hammer film comment, later in the movie, worked well. The animated credit sequence worked as a throwback to an earlier era of films also.

Benjamin Lutz as Brewster
The aforementioned Brewster is on the job but isn’t able to finish. It just so happens that it is with Walsh’s wife. He gets a phone call from Caplan (Jon Gale) telling Brewster that Walsh hasn’t shown for work and if Brewster doesn’t drive his route Walsh will lose his job. Brewster is banned from driving (though not explicitly stated we find out why later) but has to comply. He has a shoddy cell phone, which breaks when he drops it and misses the fact that the truck office is now blood splattered. Soon he is on the road transporting coffins, or so he thinks.

Windham Beecham as Cary
Cary (Windham Beecham) and Vogel (David Alanson) are a couple. Vogel is a slut and Cary has suggested their cross country hike in order to reconnect. Vogel hitches a ride and they are picked up by Brewster. A lot of the comedy comes from the interactions of the characters with some sharp one liners and the clash between the boys and Brewster’s redneck sensibilities. There is also a sexual identity confusion sub-text as Brewster catches them together in a toilet, finds himself aroused and the film follows his subsequent reactions.

The sat-nav leads them to a scrapyard, rather than the funeral home that Brewster was meant to be delivering the coffins to. The truck axel breaks and the sun sets. Soon the three are besieged by vampires and they can’t get a signal on Cary’s iPhone (no surprise there). The problem I have now is explaining the vampire rules as there is quite a neat little lore twist but the film hinges on it. Suffice it to say I liked what they did with telepathy and also with mirrors.

pee power
I can say that the vampires seem to fear religious paraphernalia – leading to boxing gloves made out of tape and pages of the bible! This also leads to one character drinking some holy water and a vamp-deadly pee! The turn-around later seems to be that you actually need faith, ala Fright Night. Vampires need an invite to enter somewhere and the sun is deadly. A bite turns.

Christ in the eye
The acting was good throughout, with natural performances from the leads. It avoided the temptation to go to over the top campness and indeed, in a moment of turn around, had Cary issue an exasperated rant about (American) football. The effects are good – especially given the apparent budget – though there is a vampire girl (Krystal Main), and whilst the gore effects did work I couldn’t help but notice that her fangs had stained pink! I'll have a small gripe as well for the shaky cameras in truck, whilst it was in motion not when they are beseiged in it.

The negatives are, however, minor and I thoroughly enjoyed this. As always, whether comedy is going to work or not is subjective but it worked for me. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: