We’ve seen the whole losing of virginity narrative before, in fact American Pie was entirely based around that very premise – yet director Andy De Emmony brings us a somewhat unique spin to what has become a conventional cinematic device, embellishing upon a much-told subject matter, as these boys don’t just want to pop their cherry, they absolutely need to.
Set in the uncompromising seaside town of Rainmouth, virgin Jamie (Ed Speleers) and his three best friends Kev (Luke Pasqualino), Bruno (Robin Morrissey) and Spike (Daniel Kendrick) spend the majority of their days hanging around in arcades and chip shops, struggling to find any inspiration in their lives – until American travel writer Juliana (Jessica Szohr) comes to stay, as she catches the eye of romanticist Jamie.
As the pair become more intimate, Jamie is thrown off kilter by the news from eccentric werewolf hunter Sid (Timothy Spall) that Juliana is the said beast, behind the disappearance of a handful of local residents. As Jamie ponders over the future between the pair, it becomes apparent that the werewolf is only after virgins, so suddenly Jamie has a rather difficult situation on his hands, as the girl he had hoped to lose his virginity to, just so happens to be his potential killer.
As you see this dead-end town predominantly through the eyes of Jamie, you need to like and empathise with the character, and fortunately the charming, sympathetic performance from Speleers allows for you to identify with the role. However, you can’t help but feel it’s been designed in such a way to make this the case, as it’s difficult not to like Jamie given the vulgarity of his friends. They’re so immoderately crude, Jamie seems like a Godsend next to them.
There isn’t anything wrong with a crude character, as such – The Inbetweeners have taught us that in every group of friends you’re allowed to have a Jay; the uncouth, foul-mouthed one who speaks coarsely, but doesn’t actually see much action. However in this instance we have three Jays, and it’s simply overbearing. When you overuse the vulgarity it gets tiring and loses its humour.
Love Bite is guilty of falling into such a trap, going for quite cheap, obvious jokes we’ve seen a thousand times before, with elementary toilet humour consistent throughout. Although in fairness, given the nature of the storyline – that of four lads who need to have sex to avoid being killed by a big dog – it’s hardly a gritty, small town drama so has every right to play up to its absurdity and puerile approach, and it does just that – certainly letting it off the hook in many instances.
There are a handful of laugh out loud moments within this film, with the occasional witty one-liner on show, mostly thanks to the character of Sid – as Spall can count himself the fortunate recipient of the majority of the funny lines. So despite Love Bite’s shortcomings, it is an original, undemanding story: a conventional romantic comedy about virgins it may be, but with added werewolves. Someone had to do it.