Bite is a 2022 British horror thriller, written and directed by James Owen, with additional writing from Tom Critch. Although a trained trauma surgeon, James started creating short films around 2017 with the comedy short Jaffacakes (2017), with Bite being James’ feature-length debut.

After a failed robbery of a dog fighting ring, young con artists Nina and Yaz are trailed by dangerous criminals intent on seeking revenge. On the run and short on cash, the two target a seemingly innocent elderly woman to aid in their getaway, however not is all as it seems in this typical townhouse.

Beginning as a gritty look into the underbelly of society, the story portrays itself as a crime drama more than a horror. Its portrayal of a dog-eat-dog world of criminals raiding other criminals in an attempt to make some quick cash without any police interference is incredibly reminiscent of the British crime thrillers of Guy Richie, full of memorable characters, dark humour, and over-the-top violence. Although Bite doesn’t achieve a similar level of natural believability in this area, it still delivers an earnest representation of this genre.

However, as Bite’s horror elements slowly come to fruition, an unsettling undertone slowly washes over the previously mentioned crime drama as the tone shifts to a deeply disturbing abduction horror. The cat-and-mouse pretense somewhat dropped for a more gruesome and, undoubtedly, more intriguing tale of terror. Redolent of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this family of misfits unquestionably carries similar characteristics to The Crawford Family, though set in a modern, more populated area of society.

Bite 2022 Arthrofilm

Assisting with Bite’s unyielding story, the implementation of grisly visual effects as well as a somber colour scheme certainly accentuates the deranged domestic situation our protagonists find themselves trapped in. Mostly consisting of desaturated greys and blues, the overall colouration is rather dreary by design – an excellent representation of the all-encompassing bleakness of every aspect of the story. Additionally, the incredibly graphic, yet restricted use of practical gore effects certainly reinforces its shocking nature that could be lost with more prevalence.

Although an outstanding performance is given by the entire cast, the driving force behind the overall creepy atmosphere is delivered from the begetters of this dysfunctional family, Beryl, and Gerald, played by Annabelle Lanyon and Stuart Sessions respectively. Annabelle delivers an incredibly remarkable rendition of a woman suffering from Stockholm syndrome, walking on eggshells in fear of a powerfully dominating patriarchy – unnervingly delivered by Stuart. Their uneasy co-dependency on each other is startlingly similar to many unhealthy relationships, although exacerbated far beyond the point of anything relatable.

An atypical mix of Guy Richie’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Toby Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Bite sets up and then obliterates all expectations with an enjoyably visceral experience overall. The unhurried reconstruction from a crime drama to an unrelenting tale of abduction and captivity is masterfully achieved to deliver the best of both genres. A must-see for fans of either genre, however, even though there are no actual scenes of dog fighting, the scenario may be off-putting to some by insinuation alone.

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