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Chastity Bites Subverts Horror Tropes in a Refreshing Way

The mean girls of San Griento High in the 2013 John Knowles horror film Chastity Bites.
The mean girls of San Griento High.

Chastity Bites tells the story of Leah (Allison Scagliotti), an ambitious, aspiring investigative journalist. The only thing standing between her and a staff writing position at The Huffington Post is that she’s still in high school. When Leah begins to suspect that the leader of the school’s Virginity Action Club (VAG) is an ages old demon that maintains her youthful appearance by feasting on virgin blood, she knows she has stumbled upon the story of a lifetime. The only problem is that Leah must now figure out how to get the story and stay alive long enough to write it.

Lotti Pharriss-Knowles penned the script for Chastity Bites. As a relative newcomer to moviemaking, I was bowled over by how clever and well-written Ms. Knowles’ script is. It’s full of wit and has enough twists and turns written in to keep the viewer on their toes. It is a unique horror screenplay, because it takes an overtly pro-feminist stance, which is fairly unusual for a horror film. The female protagonist is in a race against time to lose her virginity before she is used in a ritualistic sacrifice. The film takes horror film conventions and turns them on their head. This is the kind of horror picture that was waiting to be made; it sends the message that a girl having sex doesn’t make her sexually generous and it doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t survive the film. As much fun as the old horror movie tropes are, Chastity Bites brings a fresh perspective to the genre and takes a totally original stance.

John Knowles directed Chastity Bites. He did a fine job of coaching believable performances out of his mostly inexperienced cast. There are a couple of supporting characters that didn’t quite live up to my expectations but that was overshadowed by Allison Scagliotti’s turn as Leah; Scagliotti was the perfect choice for the role and she nailed every aspect of it. She perfectly embodied the role of a young feminist and displayed brilliant comedic timing that made her one-liners even funnier than they probably should have been.

Chastity Bites isn’t afraid to make a statement. Ms. Knowles’ script is full of jokes that poke fun at the right wing ideals that marginalize women and gays and it’s unabashed in its willingness to take a stand. It features a lesbian character that is not in a thruway role or there to be the butt of a joke, which was nice to see.

There’s absolutely no nudity in Chastity Bites and I commend that. It can be difficult to gain distribution for an independent horror film with no bare boobies but showcasing the supple breasts of any of the cast members would have been in conflict with the film’s strong feminist overtones. If the characters were parading around naked for no reason, it would have made it more difficult to take the film seriously.

Chastity Bites starts off a little rocky, with some ups and downs in both the pacing and the acting but before long, the film finds its footing and stays on track for the remainder of the running time.

The effects in Chastity Bites are passable. They aren’t anything to celebrate but they are not groan-inducing either. It looks like some of the effects were done in post with CGI but with the film’s limited budget that may have been the only option.

Chastity Bites is well worth checking out. It’s different from anything I’ve seen in recent years. Also, it has a strong message, which is unusual for a horror film. Chastity Bites is available on DVD now.


Director(s): John Knowles
Writer(s): Lotti Pharriss-Knowles
Stars: Allison Scagliotti, Francia Raisa
Year: 2013
Studio/ Production Co: Weirdsmobile Productions
Budget: Unknown
Language: English
Length: 95 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Slasher

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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dogs, and cat hat(s).
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