Out April 27th / 2013 / 89 minutes / 18 rating / Safecracker Pictures / Dir. John V Knowles
Leah Ratliff, a feminist blogger and aspiring investigative journalist, is looking for a big story that will land her a college scholarship. She finds it when an abstinence educator named Liz Batho arrives at Leah s high school and forms the Virginity Action Group a.k.a. V.A.G. that promotes chastity through vagina awareness .
Liz Batho turns out to be Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the murderess who killed hundreds of girls in the 1600s, to bathe in their virgin blood to retain her youthful good looks. Ms. Batho’s scheme is to get as many young girls as possible to join V.A.G., thus allowing her access to an endless supply of virgins to slaughter. But can Leah stop the unholy rituals and crack the big story wide open…?
A horror comedy that feels a little more like a teen drama series in places, Chastity Bites is well acted, has solid direction and moments that are genuinely entertaining.
The story of an ancient vampire coming to town and frightening a nosey teen isn’t something new in the horror genre. Fright Night (1985, dir. Tom Holland) has a similar story, although with some key differences. But for Chastity Bites the similarities that exist will bring to mind Fright Night, on occasion. This isn’t a bad thing, as the movie has a fun feel to it when the Fright Night comparisons crop up.
The feature does have more than a passing resemblance for a teen drama programme, though. The way in which character Leah (Alison Scagliotti) becomes determined to find the truth out about Liz and turns amateur detective is very reminiscent of Veronica Mars (2004-07). The character as a whole and the way it is played by Scagliotti are familiar to the way Kristen Bell played the lead in Veronica Mars. Scagliotti handles the part well though and is likable as Leah. Oddly some moments veer from this and head towards something more akin to classic giallos, not a teen drama. A mysterious killer, wearing leather gloves and holding a knife strikes in one scene.
Louise Griffiths, as the vampire Liz, is alluring in her role. She is British and before turning to acting in 2006 she had a unsuccessful career as a pop star. Her ‘biggest moment’ in pop music was appearing on long forgotten Pop Idol/X Factor-rip off Fame Academy in 2003. Griffiths has clearly moved on and is having more success in the world of acting. In Chastity Bites she oozes charisma and sex appeal. Its a shock she hasn’t been placed on the DVD cover.
The comedy to be had in the film is when Liz tries to encourage the ‘Mean Girls‘ type teens of the local school to not have sex. As Liz is supposed to be the legendary Elizabeth Bathory, who is said to have bathed in the blood of virgins, this is because she wants the young girls to remain untouched for her own morbid needs. This is a bit of a reversal of a tired horror movie cliché. Usually the teens that have underage sex are killed, in Chastity Bites not having it off will get you killed. Leah goes to great efforts to ensure she isn’t a victim of Liz (the viewer can guess how she does that). There is a special group set up at the school to preach about not having sex, called Virginity Action Group aka V.A.G (geddit???), a bit of smut emerging in the story.
Exceeding what is expected of the horror sub genre it is based in, Chastity Bites is a surprisingly rewarding feature.