Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 24 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Eric England
Written by: Eric England
Starring: Najarra Townsend, Caroline Williams, Alice Macdonald, Katie Stegeman, Matt Mercer, Charley Koontz, Simon Barrett, Ruben Pla, Dave Holmes & Celia Finkelstein
Sex is something serious. It’s more than just a human need and means far more when there is a strong emotional connection between partners. This world is full of sex-crazed young people, so it’s easy to forget the unexpected consequences that might come with the act of mating. I am not speaking of pregnancy. That’s actually the best case scenario compared to what you could contract from a partner. STDs are the stuff of nightmares and it’s about time that a horror film comes along takes control of this surprisingly unexplored territory for this genre. CONTRACTED is a professionally made independent production that has a wicked premise and a twisted execution.
Samantha is a young party girl living with her domineering mother and getting over a painful breakup from her former lover. While drunk, Sam is approached by a mysterious stranger (Simon Barrett in a brief role) and the two of them get it on in his back seat. Waking up the next day with a vague memory of the one night stand, Sam finds herself feeling severely hungover. It’s not the alcohol that’s making her queasy though. After a visit to the doctor, a veiny rash, and some vaginal bleeding, Sam discovers that she is carrying an STD. It’s unlike anything the doctor has ever seen and Sam begins to fall apart (both mentally and physically).
Taking place over the course of a few days, CONTRACTED is a disturbing slice of body-horror that would rank near ANTIVIRAL as a modern vision of body horror that would make David Cronenberg green with envy. It’s not just a body horror film though, because there’s actually a more popular subgenre here under the disguise of the sick modern makeover. I won’t spoil the surprise. Even though I wasn’t a giant fan of what the virus ultimately suggested it was, I still found the movie to be an uncomfortable experience (which is a big compliment when you consider this is a horror film).
The character of Samantha is likable enough, but also makes a few stupid decisions through the course of the film (one in particular made me roll my eyes in disbelief). The film has a couple of weak actors, but the rest of them hold their ground. The material is treated with respect and never wavers from a straight-faced presentation. There are some amazingly disturbing scenes of body horror that made me nauseous too. The 84 minute running time is well-paced and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Eric England’s previous film, MADISON COUNTY, was a lame backwoods slasher flick. I wrote him off as just another guy making horror movies in his backyard with his friends. CONTRACTED shows that England can actually pull off some cool ideas with grisly gusto. The film has some problems (as evidenced before in some shaky side actors, a couple of dumb decisions from the protagonist, and it actually being a form of a popular subgenre), but it also showcases a possible emerging talent in the horror genre.
In the realm of grossing you out, CONTRACTED excels. In the realm of being creepy, CONTRACTED is freaky beyond reason. This is an effective body-horror flick. For extra incentive, show this one to kids going through puberty and I guarantee that a whole lot more people will be keeping their virginity. That’s the best kind of praise for a movie like this!