Sunday, December 01, 2013

Contracted Should Go Viral: A Movie Review

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Tagline: "Not Your Average One Night Stand."

Director/writer: Eric England.

Cast: Najarra Townsend, Caroline Williams, Alice Macdonald, Katie Stegeman and Matt Mercer.

Sometimes horror films are morality plays. They warn you away from certain behaviours. Sometimes horror films play on a viewer's fears. Eric England's (Madison County) Contracted is a little bit of both of these concepts. Contracted involves one character's struggle to deal with a sexual infection. Samantha's (Najarra Townsend) devolvement into something monstrous puts the film squarely into body horror, while the consequences of unprotected sex reach a nightmarish conclusion. Contracted is a dramatic indie horror film, which will unsettle much of the film's target audience.

The film begins with a scene of necrophilia, but quickly transitions to Sam and her struggles. Sam is a normal girl, dealing with some relationship issues. She is newly bisexual and quickly seduced into casual sex, with the help of intoxicants. Her one night stand is not quickly forgotten as a rash develops in her lower regions. The darkish rash spreads to other parts of her body and it soon becomes obvious that Sam is dealing with a sexually transmitted infection. Then, her relationships and opportunities diminish, with her changing behaviour. Soon, Sam is looking more like a monster, than bold beauty.

Contracted is truly a body horror film. There are exceptional makeup effects here. Sam's transformation from healthy young woman into something more dead-like is a sight to see. For instance, her teeth fall out, fingernails are lost and worms crawl out of her nether regions. The focus here is on Sam's loss of physicality and humanness. And, all of her terrifying changes are chronicled throughout the film's short runtime. The visuals and physical changes are the strongest elements in Eric England's latest feature.

The story plays on specific psychological fears. The consequences of STIs can be life threatening in the present day and age. England brings this possibility out in his story, in dramatic fashion. He also brings this theme out indirectly. Several posters spell out the dangers of sexually sourced diseases. Sex can be dangerous and the story derives its scares by emphasizing this fact.

The film elements here are mostly well produced. The tone of the film plays with both dramatic and horror elements. The story is well placed. As well, the acting in the film is decent, especially Najarra Townsend's performance as Sam. The climax is a little subdued. Certain conflicts clash weakly, but the final conclusion is an entertaining one. Contracted is a memorable film, which many will enjoy.

Overall, Contracted is a small indie horror film with a solid story. This title has recently released on video-on-demand formats (November 22nd, 2013) and this viewer would recommend horror fans seek it out. Full of unintentional humour, Contracted will make most watchers squirm as Sam turns from beauty into monster. Truly a body horror film, Contracted shows the possible consequences of casual sex, in dramatic form. Though, a second viewing might make some want to wear a body condom.

Overall: 7.25 out of 10 (good story, well shot, interesting characters, conflict is slightly weak and unresolved).

The film's fan page is here:

Contracted on Facebook


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