Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Contracted




** ½
A beautiful lesbian (with a mother that doesn’t approve of her lifestyle) contracts a wicked sexually transmitted “virus” (a little wasted, she at first agrees to a one nightstand with some guy at a party held at her buddy’s house but tries to stop him but he forces himself in her) and the film follows her down the dark road of a diseased “makeover” until she’s basically a zombie.


Allegories on AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are nothing new, and once again the zombie genre is the means to explore the slow-moving virus caught through an act of sexual contact. Contracted was not in any way an entertaining experience. I was quite unsettled as the lead’s condition worsens and her increasingly miserable sickness rears itself physically. Najarra Townsend is Samantha, the protagonist. She is in love with a chick full of “fuck you” attitude and total disregard for the male species. Nikki (Katie Stegeman) is her name, and she doesn’t really seem all that interested in maintaining a real relationship with Samantha. It is obvious this is a one-sided affair where Nikki seems aware of Samantha’s affection for her but can’t muster up the same to offer anything emotional in return.


What I was fascinated in was the place for which Samantha finds herself. Quite stunning in the looks department, Samantha has men that are enamored with her (such as Matt Mercer as Riley; Riley is a guy that she seems to have some history with, prior to her “lesbian awakening”) while at the same time she seems uncomfortable with their desire for her. Her best friend, Alice (Alice Macdonald), kind of inadvertently instigates Samantha’s plight. Insisting on Samantha coming to her party, and boozing up, Alice leads her pal into the devil’s den unknowingly. BJ is the “serial killer” (you could equate him to past AIDS horrors where someone infected was knowingly spreading it to others who were not aware of his/her condition) the authorities are searching for, having participated in necrophilia, as well as, handling a test tube during this! This act is the opening scene explaining just what kind of deviant BJ is and what he’s capable of.


The rape almost immediately “pollutes” Samantha. Vaginal (and I guess anal) bleeding along with vomiting blood start the process. Soon Samantha’s eyes are turning color and hair is falling out. Veins of blue emerge, both teeth and fingernails rot and fall out/off, and her skin turns pallid. Sores appear and decomposition begins. This deterioration is unpleasant and takes up a large majority of the running time. The reactions of those who know her (religious mother who isn’t favorable of her sexuality, lover who loses interest in her, the friend deeply concerned for her, the doctor who believes she could be a threat to others and should perhaps quarantine herself for everyone’s safety) and how the physiology of Samantha’s “turning” becomes progressively grotesque are built specifically to pack a punch to the gut.


Eventually the condition drives Samantha into emotional upheaval, violence (both Nikki and Alice, because of their closeness to Samantha are in danger), and ultimately a flesh-eating ghoul. Told absolutely serious in tone and designed to repulse (how could you not react to all the body disruptions that result in Samantha’s deteriorating condition?), Contracted carries the lingering bleakness of Samantha’s physical and emotional state all the way to a grim conclusion. Caroline Williams of Texas Chainsaw Massacre II & The Stepfather 2 is the mother of Samantha, always at odds with her due to past drug abuse and her homosexuality, as she seems oblivious to what her daughter is actually going through. Williams has a no-win-situation part where she’ll probably be judged harshly for her stance on her daughter’s lifestyle although she seems sincere in trying to connect her on some level. Problem is this is perhaps too little too late. Her fate at the very end makes sense considering she has this difficult relationship with Samantha and when the virus has did its damage to her daughter, the time for a loving embrace is over…so the fade to black and screams comment on the abrupt finale of a troubled family that never found a way to make amends.


I think one other aspect that fascinated me was how the film establishes Samantha’s beauty and then as time goes on, that is lost until she is this hideous reminder of what she once was. So a lot going on here, but I didn’t really consider Contracted all that deep, and definitely not subtle, so it works primarily as a developing virus that spoils and rots a pretty young thing until she’s strangling and biting throats.

There were some valid criticisms regarding logic problems with the film I agree with on the imdb during a topic about it on the Horror board. Seeing the disease advanced on Samantha and no one reacting hardly towards it is hard to take seriously. Her scenes in the restaurant, especially, and Riley blind to Samantha's obvious sickness (and still willing to have sex with her) were good examples brought up by users on the topic of the movie. So I do think viewers err on the side of caution before expecting something worthwhile with this as the execution of the story has its share of idiocies. 
http://brianscarecrow88.tumblr.com/post/87246333336/najarra-townsend-contracted
http://brianscarecrow88.tumblr.com/post/87246984381/contracted
http://brianscarecrow88.tumblr.com/post/87250083341/contracted
http://brianscarecrow88.tumblr.com/post/87250562361/the-descent-contracted
http://brianscarecrow88.tumblr.com/post/87251107531/shower-contracted
http://brianscarecrow88.tumblr.com/post/87252052541/love-unrequited-contracted
http://brianscarecrow88.tumblr.com/post/87253095531/what-are-friends-for-contracted
http://brianscarecrow88.tumblr.com/post/87253525931/contracted

2 comments:

  1. I haven't seen this one or even heard of it, but you make it sound better than you seem to say it is. I like this kind of use of zombie-ism (and, in fact, it's the subject of my own most recent article). Fortunately, I have a friend who scoops up zombie pictures like crazy and brings them over to watch, so I'll probably get to see it soon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it uses zombie-ism to explore themes such as conflicting homosexuality and sexually-transmitted disease. It does what it sets out to do. I wasn't numb to it, and I was certainly set at an unease throughout it. So you might actually like it.

    ReplyDelete

I had a fun dialogue with a young lady I work with about the rather hilarious scenes particularly in romantic comedies and action genre wher...

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