I do have a bit of a soft spot for low budget horror movies. Most recently I watched the funny and well produced Grabbers, and had high hopes for Love Bite. After all, it combined the coming of age “American Pie” type movie with quintessential British horror and a well-respected Director in Andy De Emmony, how could it fail? Well, quite easily really, it takes far too long to get going, makes you jump maybe twice in an hour and a half and ends on a damp squib. Oh dear.
The synopsis according to the distributers is thus: A group of lads discover a werewolf is in town, preying on virgin meat. The race is on for them to get laid before it catches up with them. The real storyline is more about one character – who actually has a little bit of maturity, but still cannot manage to pop his cherry, while his mates, who are the type who need “Do not allow to Breed” stamped across their forehead just provide a little light comedy relief. Set in a run-down sea side town, mainly famous for making square pies, all anyone wants to do is leave, and that was before the werewolf turned up! Jamie (Ed Speleers) is the quiet, slightly awkward teen, running his mother’s squalid B&B and avoiding the sexual advances of both the guests and also the town bike – sorry, girl of negotiable morals. She just happens to be the daughter of the local police sergeant, making her a slightly risky ride, but even without this complication, Jamie is not interested. He meets an American tourist – Juliana, (Jessica Szohr) who claims she is writing a travel blog. What soon becomes clear is that she is not all she seems, as her arrival seems to be the catalyst for the werewolf attacks, but surely it cannot be this simple? Werewolf hunter Sid (Timothy Spall) thinks it is and sets out to bring down the werewolf, having tracked it through Eastern Europe. All that needs to happen then, is for the boys to get laid and Sid to kill Juliana before she wipes out the more pathetic specimens of male kind in the town.
This could all be quite promising, but the pace is just so slow. In the first fifty minutes, we get two brief shots of the werewolf, a few unexplained disappearances and a couple of deaths, played out so vanilla that you could see more gore on a pre-watershed soap opera. There are quite a few lewd sexual references – mainly concerning Jamie’s sidekicks Kev, (Luke Pasqualino) Spike (Daniel Kendrick) and Bruno (Robin Morrissey) and their obsession with what is no doubt an embarrassingly small part of their anatomy. There are a few genuine moments of comedy, but not enough to cover up for the otherwise pedestrian pace of the film. Whereas American Pie can have at least vaguely attractive beach parties with a few geeks thrown in amongst the beautiful people, a slightly seedy English holiday resort struggles to get much beyond TOWIE in terms of sophistication. It all feels, crass, sluggish and boring. Even the usually reliable Tim Spall fails to liven things up to any great extent. He sort of bumbles around the side lines uttering sage advice for the most part, only really coming into his own in the latter stages of the movie.
Maybe part of the problem is the way it was shot and edited. It just does not feel in any way creepy or even coherent. What I am trying to suggest is that horror films need scenes to build up tension and intrigue, but Director Andy De Emmony’s style is simply too straight for this style of movie. This is not helped by the camera work, which is all just too safe. What made Grabbers and Sean of the Dead work in this respect was the slight edginess, with atmospheric lighting where needed and plenty of focus on the main proponents.
The only glimmer of hope is that things do improve in the last thirty minutes or so. The tension noticeably picks up and we get to see more than just a glimpse of the werewolf. There are also a few more twists in the story line and all in all it is a more satisfying experience. A shame it is all too little too late.
The special effects are another disappointment. Once upon a time, occasional flash frame shots of something big and furry might have sufficed, but again budget horror movies like Grabbers have shown that limited funds are no boundary to decent effects. There is far too little in the way of gore, in fact the werewolf in Harry Potter is a good deal more scary on the whole. There are a couple of moments that genuinely make you jump, but these are few and far between. The finale has an unexpected twist and a good epilogue, so it is true to say things end better than they start.
The question I ask myself is who is this movie aimed at? Traditional horror fans will sneer at the lack of scary, tense or heart stopping moments, there is nothing in the way of a love interest to get the emo girls going, so that leaves a few teenage boys hoping for some sex scenes and frankly, they are going to be disappointed as well.
This movie misses the mark by miles, burdened down by a pedestrian plot, boring, uninspiring locations and a preoccupation with sex that remains unconsummated. There are much better budget horror movies out there and an equal number of superior coming of age movies to boot. Give this one a miss.
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