Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chastity Bites - Review - @ChastityBites / @1LGriffiths / #Horror

Chastity Bites (2013) **1/2
D: John V. Knowles
C: Louise Griffiths, Allison Scagliotti, Francia Raisa, Eduardo Rioseco, Chloe Crampton, Amy Okuda, Sarah Stouffer, Lindsey Morgan, Laura Niemi, Diana Chiritescu   

Plot Synopsis: In the early 1600's, Countess Elizabeth Bathory slaughtered more than 600 young women, believing if she bathed in the blood of virgins that she would stay young and beautiful forever. Still alive today, she's found a perfect hunting ground for her 'botox' as an abstinence educator in conservative America, and the young ladies of San Griento High are poised to be her next victims. But will her unholy ritual finally be stopped by Leah Ratliff, a feminist blogger and ambitious reporter for the school paper? 

REVIEW: In Chasity Bites, the idea that a virgin is always the final girl gets tossed on its head, as virgins are now the prime target. This leads to the film sending up various horror cliches as well as an indictment into abstinence only education. In two smartly observed scenes, our young heroine runs off to lose her virginity to the boy that's loved her from afar before doing battle with Elizabeth Bathory. And the other, is a scene in which a clique of high school girls promise to remain virgins, not because they believe in saving themselves, but because (A.) virginity is the next big trend -and- (B.) it might get them their very own reality show on MTV. Some of the other topics that the film takes on include pop culture, identity, conformity, the notion that the upper 1% controls everybody else by using their money to influence policy, the pressures that society places upon middle aged women to be forever youthful and much more! 

As Elizabeth Bathory, Louise Griffiths has the kind of screen presence needed to convey this larger then life historical figure. And I can't talk about Griffiths without giving kudos to the makeup and wardrobe department. They've given Griffiths a distinct look that looks quite striking on camera. 

Another actor that is an asset is Eduardo Rioseco. He has one of the tougher roles. For a big chunk of the film, he's that guy that's in the background, that the film's main characters say hi to whenever he's around. Seeing as his character has a crush on our film's heroine, he has to be able to project a sense of uncertainty and shyness. However, as things progress, he not only has to convey that he could be her intellectual equal, but the voice of reason as well. Watching Chastity Bites, I expected Louise Griffiths to dominate every frame she's in. It's a showy role that places her in the forefront of all of her scenes. However, Eduardo Rioseco has a disarming kind of quality that sneaks up on you. He's one of the true surprises of the film and steals scenes whenever Griffiths isn't dominating them. This is the type of role that could be a breakout part for him.

However, the overall impact is lessened by the performances of its supporting actors. Namely, the cast members that play members of this virginity clique and the actresses that play their mothers as well. The characters in a comedy (or in this case, a horror comedy) don't know they're in a comedy and thus the actors shouldn't act like they're in a comedy. Instead of trusting that the material would have come across as funny if they had played it straight, they mug it up for the camera. 

And then there's the finale, which goes for one easy answer after another. Did the film lack the courage to follow through with the various ideas and notions that it presents? What happened that caused the film to shift course? Right when it counted, Chastity Bites lacks the conviction to sink its fangs in all the way. The entire finale is one big cop out. 

Looking back, at Chastity Bites, in hindsight, it's the type of film that's only as good as when you're watching it. What I mean by that is, while watching the film, on my TV, from the comforts of my home, I enjoyed it. More so then I ever expected to. However, after all is said and done, and given a chance to reflect upon it, Chastity Bites doesn't hold the same kind of value that it did while I was watching it.

This is a film that wanted to be more and in turn, I wanted more for it. As a horror comedy, it's an above average example of what a film in this genre can be, but I still can't shake off this feeling that it could have been been more then that. [Not Rated] 93 mins.

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