Ambulances and paramedics were called during the premiere of BITE at Fantasia International Film Festival when some audience members allegedly fainted and vomited.

Although the same did not happen during its premiere at Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival (Spooky Fest), which took place at Maryland’s AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, BITE did sink its teeth into audience members.

Audience member Paula deGuzman, 24, described the film as nasty, creative and gut-churning.

“Overall, [the film was] a captivating thriller sure to keep you on the edge of your seat – a stomach-wrenching must see,” deGuzman said.

BITE, directed and written by Chad Archibald, begins with Casey, played byElma Begovic, on a bachelorette trip in Costa Rica with best friend Kirsten, played by Denise Yuen, and her not-so-best friend Jill, played by Annette Wozniak.

“I kind of came up with the bug concept when my wife’s sister came back from Guatemala after doing some work for an animal sanctuary,” Archibald said.

“I was so amazed by how many bug bites my wife’s sister had all over her body from a weird jungle with these weird, unheard of bugs.”

During the trip, Casey and her friends discover a lagoon where Casey gets bitten by an unknown bug on her right thigh.

Although many spooky film fanatics associate BITE with The Fly because of  the “human transforming into an bug” concept. Archibald explained that the idea was never to make a similar film..

The Fly is an amazing film, but was never really an inspiration for this film,” Archibald said.

BITE is much less science-based and more based  the organic concept of the transformation compared to The Fly, Archibald said.

“The idea was someone bit by a weird undiscovered bug and how the bite manifests in the body- kind of a horror version of getting some bug bites in a tropical place,” Archibald said.

After returning home to the complex where she and fiancé Jared, played by Jordan Gray, live in  separate apartments, it is clear that Casey is anxious about marrying Jared who not only has expectations of having a child, but also has an overbearing mother, Mrs. Kennedy, played by Lawrene Denkers, who is also the landlord of the complex.

It is not long until the bite on Casey’s right thigh blisters with gooey puss.

Soon, Casey develops bug-like instincts, like a sharper sense of hearing.

After involuntarily overhearing the conversation between Jared and his mother, Casey discovers the true depth of Mrs. Kennedy’s animosity towards her.

When Mrs. Kennedy breaks into Casey’s apartment due to odor complaints, she discovers a hive that is now home to millions of eggs that Casey has produced.

Audience member Kelly Wagner, 30, found amusement in the eggs.

“The eggs used in the film reminded me of a tasty topping I put on my frozen yogurt from Sweet Frog,” Wagner said.

Referring to Sweet Frog’s mango and orange poppers, Wagner could not help but take the setting less seriously.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it which took away from the intended gross factor,” Wagner said.

After agitating Casey about the transformation of the apartment and her disgust for the marriage, Mrs. Kennedy dies after her face is burned off by the green goo Casey spat at her.

She disposes of Mrs. Kennedy’s body in the bathtub.

Concerned after not hearing from Casey for so long, Kirsten finds Casey in the hive and begs her to leave and get help.

“I think that sometimes the concept of bugs has a tendency to be scarier than demons, ghosts and zombies,” audience member, Addy von DenToten, 29, said.

Desperate to save her friend and herself, Kirsten tries to call for help on her smartphone, but drops it into the bathtub where she discovers Mrs. Kennedy’s body.

After breaking into the bathroom, Casey accidentally spits blue goo, covering Kirsten’s nose and mouth – making her unable to breathe.

“To have your own body rebel and change before your very eyes, with nothing you can do about it, and your mind degrades to a point where you begin to accept it is much scarier if done well,” DenToten said.

Casey cries hysterically after realizing not only what she has done, but also what she has become.

Holding Kirsten in her arms, Casey’s cries turn into high-pitched, inhuman screams as Kirsten takes her last breath.

“She transformed into a genuinely terrifying creature,” Wagner said.

Overall, the audience members seemed likely  to recommend BITE to their friends.

“I feel like this is one of those movies that you can watch with a group of people and give it the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment,” DenToten said.

Casey’s transformed appearance seemed to leave good impressions on audience members.

“I liked the the way the creators made Casey look after her transformation,” Snowden said.

Wagner also took Casey’s appearance into mind.

“Between the amazing makeup effects and Elma Begovic’s performance as Casey, I was surely in the Halloween spirit after leaving the theater,” Wagner said.

Spooky Fest will return next October to showcase the best in new spooky short and feature films from around the world.

Featured Photo Credit: Title cards for the Spooky Movie Film Festival in Silver Spring. (Josh Loock/Bloc Reporter)

Jennifer Pham is a junior multiplatform journalism major and may be reached at jenaipham@gmail.com

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