About 10 minutes into Chastity Bites I realized that I had a stupid grin plastered on my face. While this (stupid) grin wavered over the next 80 minutes, overall the film is a pretty damn fun horror-comedy with a talented lead and some great dialogue. It’s kinda like Fright Night meets Mean Girls, wrapped in a dull TV sheen, ala Are You Afraid of the Dark?. The result is definitely worth 90 minutes of your time.
Leah (Allison Scagliotti) is an aspiring investigative journalist for her high school paper who’s desperately searching for the “perfect story” that’ll land her a journalism scholarship. When a new club for girls starts up at her school, one that promotes chastity through “vagina awareness,” Leah sees an opportunity to crack a big story wide open about the club’s founder, the mysterious Liz Bathos (Louise Griffiths).
If the not-so-subtle name Liz Bathos sounds familiar, that’s because she’s really Elizabeth Bathory – the 16th century Hungarian countess who has become infamous as one of history’s most prolific serial killers. Y’know, the one who allegedly murdered hundreds of young girls and bathed in their blood to rejuvenate her skin (insert ‘maybe it’s Maybelline” joke here). Now she’s conning young virgins into joining her chastity clubs so she can maintain her sexy ass self.
The local Real Housewife-wannabes easily fall under her spell with promises of surefire wrinkle cream. The clique of “mean girls” (who happen to be Leah’s biggest tormentors) quickly latch onto Liz because chastity is now the cool thing amongst high schoolers, I guess. Remember when getting laid in high school used to make you the shit? Times have changed, huh?
But Leah doesn’t buy Liz’s pitch. Right off the bat she’s distrustful of Liz’s intentions and her silly chastity club, while her best friend Katherine (Francia Raisa) falls prey. As Leah, Scagliotti creates a tough-minded, intelligent character who’s not without her own teenage vulnerabilities. She’s charismatic as hell and very easy to root for. The exchanges between her and Katherine are miraculously believable. Writing dialogue for teenagers is more difficult than it sounds, but here writer Lotti Pharriss Knowles nails it.
The two girls do share a few catch phrases, which also adds to the TV show-vibe of the film. It’s the straightforwardness (or, lack of style) of the camerawork that really gives the film that feel. Despite plenty of gore (so many throats get slit), the humor and camera make it feel like an R-rated Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode. That’s certainly not a bad thing. Again, I had a smile on my face for most of the movie. It’s self-aware and a really good time.
There area couple things that didn’t work for me. There’s a cliche creepy groundskeeper character who wasn’t necessary and a left-field subplot concerning Leah’s ancestry that isn’t earned. Other than that Chastity Bites is a solid horror-comedy definitely worth checking out.
Look for it on DVD Feb. 11, 2014 – say, that’s 400 years since the real Bathory died! The least you could do to commemorate her death is check out this movie!
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