Monday, April 1, 2013

The Cinema File #150: "Love Bite" Review

Ever since I started playing This Meets That on the blog, I find myself reflexively watching movies through the lens of trying to figure out the constituent movies that make up each premise. With Snitch, I noted that it felt a lot like Walking Tall meets Traffic, and Bullet To The Head felt a lot like some shitty 80’s straight to video action movie with a name like Streets of Justice 2, crossed with a documentary on paint drying. I just watched the British horror-comedy Love Bite, which if I had to deconstruct it in this way, I’d say is a combination of The Howling and American Pie, but as interesting as that odd structure might sound, unfortunately the result is a poorly executed mess that never seems to know what it wants to be, or how much potential it is wasting.

Love Bite is the story of a group of pathetic teenagers who discover that their constant struggle to get laid has become even more imperative now that their town is being plagued by a werewolf that only eats virgins. At least I think they’re teens, though they never seem to go to school and yet look too young to have graduated. Still, right away you gotta love that concept, if only for the tweak on so many shitty teen movies where a horny kid’s first time is treated like the most important experience he will ever have. The problem is, we spend so much time establishing these characters by the one trait they have (wanting to have sex) before there is any concrete mention of the supernatural twist, that the payoff amounts to one montage that isn’t even all that funny, and the film as a whole never comes together in a way that exploits the novelty of the premise.

I have to imagine this movie went through several re-writes, but in that way where maybe something very funny and original that didn’t quite gel in the first draft was only made more obtuse by further attempts at revision. There are so many threads that don’t come together at all, and whole characters that you would assume are important enough to have their stories resolved, only for them to just disappear before the end. Through much of the movie we’re in this love story between the main character and a girl who is obviously a red herring for the identity of the werewolf, and we focus on his mother and the bed and breakfast they work at and how he wants to leave and see the world, but none of this ultimately matters in the grand scheme of things. Two out of the four male friends who make up our main group of characters just run away at one point and are never seen again, and the one that does get an ending, the Lothario who you would expect to be revealed as secretly a virgin, instead gets a sad dramatic send off that is completely out of place with the rest of the movie.

The ending might have been kind of interesting if it had been set up at all, but as it happens, it’s just insulting. Without spoiling it, the last five minutes of this movie basically come completely out of left field and throw everything we had previously established about these characters and this world out the window for absolutely no reason. For one thing, the mystery of who the werewolf might be is a major tease throughout, but the reveal is so quick and arbitrary that its clear the writer never gave a shit about who it was or how it related to the rest of the story. Then after an incredibly stupid bit of CGI crassness that I imagine was the whole reason the writer wanted to do this movie, we shift into an epilogue on an entirely different continent, and its like the beginning of a completely different movie that I actually would have preferred over this one. As disorienting as it all is, when I realized that this virgin eating werewolf conceit was now placed in the context of an evangelical virgin retreat, I literally screamed at my television, flabbergasted that they didn’t set the entire movie here.

Timothy Spall, who I enjoyed quite a bit in Upside Down, shows up here as a comic relief werewolf hunter, and I wish I could say that at least he was a highlight, but they never really ever give him anything all that funny to do. The whole movie is like this, setting up things that you would think would be funny, and by all rights should be in the hands of anyone half-way competent, but every time the movie just fails to deliver on the promises it makes. There are a few incidental laughs here and there, but certainly not enough to justify the undertaking, and just from the standpoint of wasted potential, the few bright spots only made me more angry that there weren't more of them, and that they weren't more consistent. If you see this movie pop up anywhere, feel free to skip it.
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