Confessions of a Film Junkie: A joint review of “Contracted”
By: Brian Cotnoir & Mina Rosario
So I heard about this the 2013 Horror/Thriller “Contracted” from Dark Discussions Podcast, and I knew I wanted to see it. I watched it, and I wanted so badly to review it, but just like my review of “The Moth Diaries” I felt like I was not the “most qualified person” to review this film, because it dealt with a lot of stuff specifically from a female perspective, and so to avoid being accused of being a sexist bigot I have decided to recruit an actual female to write her own perspective on the film. So this review is being broken off into two parts; one from a male perspective and one from a female perspective so please enjoy and let us know whose opinion you think is more valid.
From a Male Perspective (By: Brian Cotnoir)
So our film opens up like many great films with the sight and sounds of necrophilia. Our story then jumps ahead to our main character, a girl named Samantha. Samantha, a recent out-of-the-closet lesbian, goes to a party one night with her best friend Alice. She spends most of the party being hit on by unattractive men, and being that boring lonely sad girl that spends the whole party moping about how the person they’re in a relationship with isn’t at the party (I’m sure you’ve all seen a person like this at a party before). So anyways, Samantha begins to drink excessively after being enabled by Alice to have a good time. It is shortly thereafter that Samantha is approached by a mysterious gentlemen who gives her a drink and claims it’s one she had dropped earlier. Being too inebriated to use better judgment, Samantha chugs the drink from the mysterious stranger and begins to feel sick. The stranger had drugged the drink and takes Samantha back to his car where he rapes her.
|Yeah...that shouldn't be happening|
Samantha has almost no recollection of the evening before. She initially thinks that she’s suffering from a severe hangover, but as the days’ progress her symptoms become a lot worst. She begins to suffer from excessive vaginal bleeding, her hair and finger nails begin to fall off, her skin becomes rough and cracked, and her eyes start turning red. She goes to see a doctor at a Free Clinic who informs her that he believes Samantha has contracted a sexually transmitted disease. After 3-days things only go from bad to worse for Samantha. Her girlfriend Nikki breaks up with her after finding out she slept with a man. Samantha doesn’t take this news so well and she chokes Nikki to death. Samantha then goes and kills her best friend Alice, for telling Nikki that she had sex with a man. Samantha’s rampage eventually comes to an end with her being transformed into a zombie-like creature as she has a violent confrontation with her mother and the police.
So this film is very good; it had a story that kept me guessing and interested. It has a dark story. I kind of felt like Samantha’s condition could possibly be a metaphor for drug addiction. The way she hides her disease from her friends, family, and co-workers is somewhat similar to when a person who has a drug addiction tries to cover up their problems. Everyone is begging Samantha to let them help her and she just runs away and ignores her problems and pretends that they don’t even exist. The special-effects and makeup are great as well, I was just shocked at how gross this film got at some points it was really realistic and great. However, I cannot say the same about the characters or the acting.
|You are a weak character, Samantha|
Samantha is a very weak character. She has contracted an awful disease that is doing untold horrors to her body and other than a visit to the free clinic she does not seek any professional help. She finds out that the man who gave her disease was wanted by the police and she does not come forward or want to know what the hell she has contracted. I can’t feel that sorry for her, for intentionally ignoring her problems. She is definitely not a well written character either, which I don’t think it has anything to do with actress Najarra Townsend’s performance. For example, Townsend’s character being a lesbian had no effect on the plot whatsoever, so why was her character written that way. I’m not saying that lesbian character needs to be written a specific way, I’m just saying that I feel like the writers decisions to make her a lesbian felt more forced than anything. The same can be said about the actress playing Nikki; I just never believed that her character was a lesbian.
The other loser character in this film is Riley. Riley is this guy who’s had a crush on Samantha for quite some time. Despite the fact that she is an open lesbian, he persistently attempts to pursue her romantically. Towards the end of the film where Samantha is clearly beyond messed up, he still is stupid enough to want to have sex with her. And he doesn’t stop until the maggots start crawling out her cooch. So I did not feel bad for Riley at all when he got what he deserved.
Caroline Williams who plays Samantha’s mother was actually quite a likeable character. One thing that sucks is how her character is written. There is a point in the film where they establish that Samantha’s mother was embarrassed when she came out, but we never see her act that way in the film. Every time we see her mother in the film she acts like a normal mom she worries about her daughter, she wants to do everything she can to make sure her daughter is happy. Never once did we here her belittle Samantha for being a lesbian or say that she was ashamed of her. There is one point where Samantha lashes out at her mother and reminds her how she called her a “dyke” once, but we never hear the mom actually say it. Again, not a bad acting performance, but her character is poorly written.
So should you see this film? I say yes (if your stomach can handle it). It is an interesting take on the zombie-patient zero genre, that at times felt like “Cabin Fever” only w/ STD’s instead of flesh-eating bacteria. I give it 3-out-5 stars.
FROM A FEMALE PERSPECTIVE (By Mina Rosario)
The movie “Contracted,” as described by Netflix, is: “After a one-night-stand, a young woman becomes alarmingly ill -- but what she thinks is a sexually transmitted disease turns out to be far worse.” This may not sound like the most interesting movie, but let it be known, this isn’t a romantic tale of woe, nor any sort of unrequited love story. It is a story about a girl who is raped and her decay into becoming a zombie. That’s right, it’s a zombie/patient zero sort of tale.
Our main lady, Samantha, has a terrible influence of a friend, named Alice, and unresponsive and terrible girlfriend, named Nikki, and surrounding relations that make a goldfish’s memory look stellar. The movie effectively opens with Samantha at Alice’s house for some party and being coerced into taking four ill-advised shots of vodka from Alice, who makes a joke of her having to drink enough to be straight so stalker boy Riley can sleep with her. (Ok, actually there’s one scene before this, but I’ll get to that in a bit.) Our heroine, after dropping her original glass, is then given another drink by Sketchy Mc Sketcherson, known as BJ . I know it says it once in the movie when Alice first calls Sam to tell her about the Police :/]], who then somehow gets her to his car and takes advantage of her. The next shot is how a black screen with white lettering “DAY 1” and our dear Sam waking in her blood, thinking it nothing more than menstruation morning. The movie then follows her for three days as we see her bleeding and effectively dying. There’s discoloration of the skin, statements of characters and love ones saying “you look like s#!t” upon seeing her, her eyes becoming bloodshot, a bit of rot around her mouth, and maggots falling out of her lady bits during a not so attractive sex scene. Throughout this the audience learns that Mr. BJ is wanted and searched for by the police and no one has any information except for the encounter Samantha had, who is, of course, refusing to go to the police; and Samantha ends up killing Nikki and Alice [[I honestly can’t remember if she kills Riley]] for breaking her heart. And of course, what zombie movie would be complete without a zombie? The last forty-five seconds (alright it’s an estimate) is of Samantha coming out of her crashed car and doing the whole zombie grunting bit before lunging for her mother.
I give credit to the creators of this movie for creativity. Never had I thought of the zombie virus to begin by a sexually transmitted disease. This relates to the scene I said I’d get back to, the actual opener of the movie. The movie opened with a mysterious character, who is later presumed to be BJ, performing necrophilia in a morgue (classy!). It’s almost like the creators said ‘you know that theory of how AIDS began? What if we did that with zombies? What if instead of getting AIDS they all turned into zombies?’ It’s definitely unique. I wouldn’t mind if the movie clarified why BJ was doing this because Samantha definitely isn’t an isolated incident. We see, who is assumed to be him, leaving with another intoxicated lady when Samantha is tripped out, drinking, and altogether unable to stop him about two-thirds into the movie. And it is known that the police are after him. Maybe if there were reporting s on the TVs in the background or radio castings in the background that could have hinted to why someone would do this. Unless they really were going for the AIDS theory idea and it is really just an unfortunate accident.
But I wouldn’t say the movie was bad. It certainly wasn’t great, but I held no regrets for watching it. The acting was decent even though the characters seemed a bit bland and too close to stereotypes for me, and at times a bit forced. (See the scene where Samantha tells her boss she has pink eye and just about all scenes with Alice or Nikki.) The atmosphere of the movie fit nicely, as did the costumes and setting.
|He's a terrible doctor|
I do believe this movie has two underlying themes. The first underlying theme is ‘always practice safe sex’. This theme is low-lying and is mainly played on during the scenes in the doctor’s office. There are several posters on the wall that indicate this, which is fine. What bothered me however, was once the doctor heard she had unprotected sex he seemed to have ‘given up’ on his inspection of her and just labeled her with a general STD. Yes, he mentions having done blood work, but there are other doctor things that could and should have be done when someone is bleeding excessively from their nether-regions and has what was being referred to as a rash. It all came off very “if you have unsafe sex you are doomed, there is no hope for you.” Granted, that does seem to be how this version of the zombie virus is spread.
The second underlying theme is ‘homosexuality is wrong’. Now, this may seem a little far fetched because sure, why wouldn’t our main character’s downward spiral be complete without a mother who disapproved of her sexuality after having a cross and holy picture on the wall. But it isn’t just the mother. In the beginning of the film, Alice yells to Riley, as Samantha is knocking back shots, that Samantha will sleep with him if he can perform cunnilingus like a lesbian. Now, some of my college friends may have said some pretty outlandish things in the past as a joke, but this is straight up rude and offensive regardless of how close people are, in my own opinion. And Nikki is straight up rude to all male characters which is a terrible stereotype of lesbians. What really takes the cake, however, is when Samantha goes to kiss Alice between the two girls’ deaths, and vomits blood into her mouth. If that isn’t a hit against homosexuality then I don’t know what is. Throughout the film I was thinking to myself “it’s a tad bit homophobic’ but when that happened, it cemented the opinion to fact.Overall, were I to give the movie a final rating, I’d give it 2.5 out of 5 stars. Not terrible, but I probably won’t watch it again.