Contracted (2013) *1/2
D: Eric England
C: Najarra Townsend, Caroline Williams, Alice Macdonald, Matt Mercer, Katie Stegeman, Simon Barrett, Charley Koontz, Ruben Pla, Dave Holmes
Plot Synopsis: A young twenty something contracts a deadly STD after having unprotected sex with a necrophiliac.
Review: The idea of a juxtaposition involving the horrors of STD's against the horrors of a horror film was a bold idea, but one that people can relate to. I applaud filmmakers that take a chance, that try to do something outside the box. At the same time, you have to be able to take those ideas and be able to execute them. That's where Contracted falls short.
Contracted is a lot of different things -- a horror movie, a social commentary on STD's & the medical system, a character study, etc. The STD angle is what takes prominence. In the background of various scenes, we see condoms, posters warning of unprotected sex, etc. We get the point. Unprotected sex is bad, really bad. The film fails to explore some of the other ramifications of unprotected sex -- unwanted pregnancy, feeling isolated from society, that sense of confusion & sadness over having an STD, the economic burden of having an STD that is placed not only on the person who has the STD, but on society in general. And so on and so on. The movie, as a whole, doesn't understand the particular strengths of its premise. As a result, it comes across as simplistic.
Worst of all is the ending. Within the first few minutes, we know that the main character had unprotected sex. As a result of this encounter, she caught an STD that's never been seen before, one that causes her to slowly rot away, one that will eventually turn her into a zombie. Since we know what's going to happen from the get go, we (as an audience) are locked in, in that we know what's going to happen. We just sit there and wait for it to happen.
When the film doesn't have anything else in particular that it wants to say, that's when they bring on the zombie. It's an arbitrary ending that feels like a cop out. I have this question? Why does the main character need to turn into a zombie? If she's rotting away, why would she all of a sudden spring back to life as a zombie? I'll tell you. It's because the writer didn't trust that the special effects and the rotting away angles would be enough to market it as a horror film. So the writer said, let me throw in a zombie to make it a bit more marketable!
With that said, is there anything that I liked about the movie? Yes - the special effects makeup of Mayera Abeita. They're seamlessly integrated into the film. While most of the effects are quite simple, they're realistically done and provide some rather icky & harrowing moments of terror. These effects make a bold statement. Contracted, on the other hand, wants to say a lot, but doesn't know how to say what it wants to say. As a result, it ends up not saying much of anything. [Not Rated] 85 mins.
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