TV Nation Reviews: Chastity Bites
by Nick Wilkinson
I put Chastity Bites in the DVD player with really no expectations. I had not previously heard of the movie but I was familiar with a few cast members. I’m not exactly sure how you would classify this movie. It’s really not horror, but it is a “supernatural” movie and I wouldn’t call it a vampire film since you don’t actually see a vampire, despite the “Bites” wordplay in the title.
Here’s the basic rundown: Leah & Katharine, a bookworm & an acne challenged hippie (Allison Scagliotti of Warehouse 13 and One Tree Hill & Francia Raisa of The Secret Life of the American Teenager) are on the outside looking in and when the school starts a chastity club, run by Liz Batho (Louise Griffiths), a mysterious and beautiful stranger looking to “help” the girls remain pure. When Leah figures out that their is more to Liz Batho than meets the eye, she finds herself in a race to save her friends life…
The plot is almost irrelevant to what the movie accomplishes. You know the basics and how it’s more than likely going to play out in the end. It’s the ride that you’re going for here, not the destination.
That’s the rundown, but in reality this movie has a whole lot more going on for it than the simple & reliable premise. This movie is many things “Jennifer’s Body” wanted to be, and writer Lotti Pharriss Knowles shows, not only a love for the genre, but also her own mastery of satire.
The opening sequence of the film is a nice throwback to teen “parking” movies & classic horror situations, but it’s the dialog that takes center stage pretty quickly. The characters don’t pull any punches with each other and the dialog reflects that. The mean girls are, well, mean! They’re not the watered down “mean girls” you’d find on ABC Family. “Fish Taco Tuesday” had me almost lose my shit…
At first glance the movie comes off as generic and full of lame stereotypes and over-exaggerated characters but that’s part of the one-two combo “Chastity Bites” hits you with. There is a reason the writer uses phrases like “lame stream media” and keeps the dialog funny but very much “on the nose” and obvious. The movie is a delicately constructed egg with the shell of a standard issue teen horror film but inside it’s filled with satire, humor, and a funny little bit of social commentary.
It’s kind of funny because the asshole in me really loves this movie. Some movies have little nods to the past but this is the first one that I’ve seen that really celebrates the good and bad of films like this. The blatant racism, sexism & rampant sexuality are all highlighted without going too overboard and turning things into a shitty Wayan’s Brothers movie.
Technically speaking the movie has a great use of color & tone. The mix of “classic” and “modern” works really well here and allows the “modern” parts to really stand out. There is a pretty funny scene during the first VAG meeting that involves God in schools and really made me giggle with the imagery.
One thing I really appreciate about this movie is that the good people don’t just make random bad choices. There is an underlying psychology to the characters actions for the most part, and they are believable to a point. From a guy that really enjoys writing and story development I can tell you that this script had a ton of thought put into it.
The main character, Leah, reflects a deeper aggravation and it wasn’t until the weather guy scene that I realized there was a underlying tone to this character that reflected today’s trend of “failing upwards” and cosmetic over quality. I also love the realistic approach Leah takes to getting her information, this is the age of Google after all.
I enjoyed the fact that “Chastity Bites” made the choice to not show the villain commit any horrible act until the main character figures it all out. That’s just simple and effective writing. With this movie you don’t have to understand the “hatch” and it’s relationship to your psyche. You just know there is a damn “hatch” on the island! I also want to thank the writers for NOT doing the “geek turned hot” school hallway music sequence. It would have been easy & lame.
The third act is filled with some really great scenes, including one where the mean girls turn on each other momentarily! It wraps up tightly and delivers where it counts.
My only real complaints are the overall lack of horror. While the movie definitely had the feel of a classic horror film, the actual death count was relatively low and the deaths repetitive (due to ritual), with the exception of one triumphantly swung hammer.
That, and Leah’s general look at the beginning and end of the film. Katharine’s look gets a pass because it’s a plot device later on, but in the opening of the film I think the dialog is strong enough that they probably didn’t need to resort to oversized glasses and a tweed jacket. End scene Allison Scagliotti on a poster, from a marketing standpoint alone, would have sold me on giving the movie a chance.
It’s 2014 – It’s safe to admit that we all secretly want Velma but in Daphne’s body.
Credits roll and the movie comes to and end. All things considered, this is a movie that I would watch again and keep finding little things I didn’t notice before. Replay value is high on this one but if you’re looking for the standard “whore & gore” you’re going to be disappointed. The gore factor is low and the nipple count is non existent but that’s not the kind of movie this is.
So that’s the review. Bottom lined, I’d buy the DVD and with a little tweaking I’d even suffer the swarm of mouth breathers at the multiplex to see “Chastity Bites”.
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