Surely, “Chastity Bites” is a horror comedy you’ll either really enjoy, or very much loathe. And for the same reasons. It’s incredibly niche, and overbearing in its commentary about women, consumerism, and materialism in our society. How far are women willing to go to stay young? Would they even make a pact with the devil and murder those around them? “Chastity Bites” is a combination of “Stepford Wives,” “Dracula,” and bit of “Mean Girls” without any of the inherent genius behind the aforementioned tales.
“Chastity Bites” is an often heavy handed and just downright irritating polemic on society and how it can affect the female culture. In effect, the film takes back the horror genre, by basically filling the most of the cast with nothing but women. There are men in the cast, but only for the means of plot devices and gags. Stuart Gordon even appears briefly in a funny cameo. Elizabeth Bathory has returned to society and is targeting a particularly grating school filled with youth obsessed and materialistic women of all ages. In an effort to mine virgins, she poses as the alluring and dignified Liz Batho, who instills an abstinence program in the school called “VAG” (Ugh). She appeals to their materialism by offering exclusive membership in to the club that guarantees diamond rings for joining, and the school’s resident pack of mean girls sign up.
Meanwhile, the school feminist Leah is suspicious of Liz from the start, convinced the program has a nefarious purpose. As female staff members and people connected to Liz Batho begin to disappear, Leah is convinced “VAG” has terrible things in store for her school, and she intends on stopping Liz. That’s tough considering Liz is not only sexy, and charming, but also has drawn the support of local moms, many of whom are desperate to look as young as Liz. That said, “Chastity Bites” wants to influence its audience by commenting on the nature of how women are obsessed with youth because our society is. In a failed effort preach to us, it serves us a heroine that has every chance to be likable and entertaining but is mostly grating. It’s surprising heroine Leah is so annoying since Allison Scagliotti can play likable and charming characters without even breaking a sweat.
We saw it in “Warehouse 13,” and even “Drake & Josh” so it’s disappointing that her heroine Leah is not only obnoxious, but seems to be striving to beat the film’s villain simply because she’s taking her best friend. I was never sure if “Chastity Bites” wanted to trash the state of female culture, or just satirize our consumer and material based culture, period. Often times, the writers vie for genuine comedy and it tends to fall flat, never quite balancing out the horror aspects of the genre amalgam. The tone is incredibly inconsistent, sometimes feeling like dull rehash of “Mean Girls,” while other times it feels like its paying homage to “Suspiria.” There are often baffling moments that, whether the product of a limited cast budget or just an effort at being clever, also fall flat. I was never sure why in the big revelation we had to see Alison Scagliotti in drag as a man, or why character Leah’s friend also imagines herself dancing with Liz dressed as a man. I mean, it’s hinted Leah’s friend is a lesbian, so why imagine a man? I was also never sure why the writers make the killer of these women a mystery in the first half, especially when it’s apparent Liz Batho is doing the dirty work.
To make the inconsistencies even more apparent, the unveiling of Liz as Elizabeth never makes sense. There’s seriously no one else named Liz Batho in the world? If Liz Batho is such a powerful figure, wouldn’t she have covered her tracks by providing herself with records of some kind online or in some hard copy form? And if Leah is such an educated young woman who bases her life on studying feminist and anti-feminist figures, why has she never heard of Elizabeth Bathory until now? It kind of contradicts her self professed education. Also if Leah is really said to be a reporter type, why not come prepared with surveillance video, a voice recorder, and a camera for hardcore evidence of Liz’s plans? “Chastity Bites” is surely never a boring horror comedy, relying very heavily on the charisma and appeal of Scagliotti, and Louise Griffiths, and seems reluctant to focus on anyone else. I wouldn’t particularly call John V. Knowles’ film bad, it’s just never a funny comedy, or scary horror film. It’s merely a run of the mill effort, in the end.