Movies set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Bite Me, and stories taking place during recent quarantines are popping up more and more. Not too long ago, I reviewed a short drama titled Shut-Off, set during the first few hours of the initial virus outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Writer-director David Schuler’s short film is the first quarantine-set horror film I’ve seen. I do mean short, as the film is only three minutes and forty seconds long. Regardless of its trailer length and the ba-dum-bump cheekiness of its title, Bite Me is a predictable but beautifully-filmed contempo quickie.
Tara (Julie Paige) and Mark (Trent Thomas) are having a FaceTime chat one evening. During their conversation, it is revealed that the two have been carrying on a clandestine affair. Tara, a dark-haired beauty who lounges on her couch like a regal tigress, is feelin’ fine after the prior night’s dalliance with Mark. He, on the other hand, is feelin’ funky and looks even worse. “Maybe it was something you ate,” she tells him.
For a minute there, I thought that Bite Me might turn into a COVID-confessional, outbreak paranoia film. But once Mark says to Tara, “Next time, can you maybe just not bite me so hard?” I knew we were definitely in sexy horror territory.
“…the two have been carrying on a clandestine affair…”
Odd side note, the character’s names are never referred to in the film itself. But the IMDb page does list the characters’ names. Though, I suppose I could have missed the introductions.
Horror movies, especially night stalker or vampire type movies, have long been studied and interpreted as possible allegories for human afflictions (particularly sexually transmitted) and drug addiction. David Cronenberg’s Rabid, Tony Scott’s The Hunger, and even the numerous interpretations of the Dracula story are examples of works that have offered themselves up for examinations as to the consequences of immoral depravity.
I’m not so sure that Bite Me has aspirations to be anything other than a minor league body horror aesthetic, though. But in the movie’s depiction of a hot fling gone horribly wrong, such comparisons to those classic works do cross the mind.
Where Bite Me really excels, however, is in image and mood. Oddly credited with a ‘Colored By’ title, Daniel Straub is the person to whom (I guess) praise should be awarded in regard to the film’s striking use of color. Tara’s apartment emits the intoxicating aura of one of those sleek city apartments where the hyper-urbane occupant only serves red wine. As she glides into the hallway of her apartment, Tara is framed in a choral blue hue and a Kool-Aid red.
The story’s ensuing strangeness blends with the bold visual palette to provide Bite Me with the effect of a particularly trippy psychedelic episode. In less than four minutes, Schuler and his cast, particularly Paige, craft a super-stylish and nifty little piece of homebound horror that takes the current risk of not social distancing to another level entirely.
"…a super-stylish and nifty little piece of homebound horror..."