“Irrelevant Details Mar What Could Have Been A Been An Excellent Example Of The ‘Body Horror’ Genre.”
Eric England‘s “Contracted” isn’t a bad movie by any stretch. It looks good, is well-acted, and competently shot.
It’s also damned irritating.
“Contracted” is in the vein of David Cronenberg‘s ‘Body Horror’ films, such as “Scanners,” “Videodrome” and “The Brood” though not as imaginative. Things revolve around Samantha, who happens to be a lesbian.
I mention her sexual preference because the film does often enough, though I have always been of the opinion that if you have to spend all your time talking about being gay, you’re probably not. In any case, it’s not particularly relevant to the character. It’s kind of weird in that I don’t necessarily expect Samantha to walk around like she’s auditioning for “The L Word, though I did expect the character being gay to somehow matter.
And I know I am not speaking from experience, but I would hope that being a lesbian is not defined by a hatred for men.
And speaking of homosexuality, a film that does a much better job of dealing with it is Paul Etheredge-Ouzt’s 2004 horror movie “Hellbent,” which revolves around some gay guys attending a carnival in LA. It’s an interesting movie, though I mention it because the characters being gay is an essential part of the story, and helps to define them as people.
While attending a friend’s party Samantha gets drunk, then roofied by some guy, who they takes her to his car and has sex with her. I don’t know if it’s rape or not, because Samantha–though drunk–seems complicit in what’s happened to her.
Or maybe we’re watching a commentary by director Eric England on the malleability of sexual mores, or even a dislike of women–straight or gay–but it doesn’t exactly help to clarify matters.
Najarra Townsend gamely plays Samantha, who, ends up with quite possibly the nastiest–and fastest acting–venereal disease ever.
She also makes all sorts of decisions that are not only really bizarre, but aren’t properly explained by the narrative. For instance, some symptoms of her condition are really red eyes–like super pinkeye–shedding fingernails, a nasty mouth wound (which you can see in the poster above) as well as a problem that makes every trip to the bathroom an experience in terror.
The thing is, I wasn’t surprised by any of it. Part of that is because most of it wasn’t new to me, though the presentation was such that the director gave viewers too much time to “live” with her condition, which made it less terrifying.
Now, if any one of those symptoms happened to a saner person, they would have been in a hospital (admittedly she did visit the doctor twice, though it was before things escalated) though when Samantha visits the doctor with bloody red eyes and a rash on her pubic area, the doctor pretty much dismisses the symptoms till he gets the results of her blood test.
I’m sorry, but when I start pissing blood, I don’t need to know the results of a blood test to tell me that something is very, very wrong.
A subplot that the movie should’ve followed, namely of the guy that infected her–is strangely abandoned, so we’re just left with Samantha and her disease running their inevitable, horrific course.
“Contracted,” as I said earlier, isn’t a terrible movie, though it’s not a great one either.
You know what, now that I think about it, I think that I would have enjoyed a terrible more movie, because that could have potentially meant that the filmmakers were at least willing to take a chance or two.
“Contracted” and “Hellbent” are currently on Netflix.