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Friday, August 4, 2023

After the Bite 2023 * * 1/2 Stars


HBO Documentary Films always lends a certain voice to their offerings. The look is clean and streamlined, the camera always peeking in. The vibes are of the moment, like everything was well, shot yesterday. Such is the case with HBO's After the Bite, a 2023 docu about the people of Cape Cod, dealing with lots of sharks in their waters and the startling death of one of their own via an attack at a local beach. Lots of interviews abound, with the subjects almost appearing like actual characters instead of the other way around. You've got the lifeguard, the concerned dad, the surfer dude, the writer, and the scientist. "On a sunny afternoon off the coast of New England, a shadow was waiting". Indeed.

The blueprint for After the Bite is simple, it almost resembles the diegesis for Jaws. I'm not kidding. You have the shark strike that gets the townspeople distressed, you have those community meetings, you have the researchers who are paid to go out and track the sharks, you have the beach scene where everybody rushes out of the water because someone kinda saw a fin, and you have the setting which eerily resembles Amity Island from Spielberg's massive, box office juggernaut. What's weird is that everyone involved in "Bite" seems oblivious to the fact that Jaws the flick ever existed. They think they're living their own Jaws, I mean it's kooky. The only difference I see in the end is that Jaws is only a movie and well, After the Bite is a more sober way in which it would've all gone down.

1975 summer blockbusters and 15 minutes of renown aside, "Bite" has a lot to say about shark analysis, shark probing, and the diverting subject of seals (wha??). Every interviewee fades in and out, giving us soliloquies, opinions, and anger rapports, mostly all about those long-bodied marine fish. The viewing out-turn, well it's insightful and informative yet virtually disjointed by the time the final frame is shown. Mixed "after" effect.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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