Horror Club Double Feature! Contracted & Contracted: Phase II (Spoilers!)
Any movie that starts off with some random guy having sex with a corpse in a morgue is - no doubt - going to grab my attention right from the get-go. Contracted - produced by BoulderLight Pictures and Southern Fried Films - was not afraid to kick off the opening scene with just that, and the story that unfolded afterwards as a result is a disturbing, disgusting, and just delightful one that makes for a great watch. The film was released back in 2013 and was born written and directed by Eric England and it is a doozy of a body horror film, for sure. It spares no expense in the utter destruction of a beautiful young woman's body. But before we get ahead of ourselves...
Samantha (played by Najarra Townsend) goes to a party at her friend Alice's house, and after taking a few shots and getting pretty drunk, Samantha is approached by a man who (barely) introduces himself as BJ. The man gives her a drink and takes her back to his car where he proceeds to rape her just before she blacks out. When she awakes the following morning, she finds herself in a pool of her own blood and not feeling too well, but she just assumes it is a bad hangover and her menstrual cycle. As her symptoms begin to grow worse and worse - such as sensitivity to noise, trouble eating, and completely blood shot eyes, the doctor can only attribute the symptoms to a sexually transmitted disease that she must have gotten from unprotected sex from the man at the party. This definitely isn't what she wants to hear, since Samantha is trying to rekindle her relationship with her female ex, Nikki, who would certainly be repulsed to think that Samantha slept with a man. As Samantha's nails begin to fall off, her hair begins to fall out, and a pretty gnarly wound develops on her lip, her whole world begins to crumble before her as she seeks help from her friends to figure out what the fuck is happening to her body. And from there, the chaos really ensues...
While the film certainly isn't gory in your typical sense, if you are squeamish or sensitive to just gross body stuff in general, you're gonna love Contracted! Samantha is a remarkably beautiful young woman, and she draws looks from many men at the party the moment she walks in. But the gross destruction that begins to happen to her directly following the sex with BJ is absolutely grotesque - in a good way. There's plenty of blood flowing out of poor Samantha, chunks of hair that just fall out of the top of her head, and who could ignore the crazy black-veiny lines that begin to appear all over her skin?! Not long into the movie, you start to feel bad for poor Samantha as she's trying so, so hard to handle the changes going on with her body, her job, her love life, her education, and her friends. As her body begins to transform from that of human to one that is reminiscent of a corpse, Samantha tries hard to rekindle her love life as Nikki pushes her away. And as she is pushed away, Samantha turns to her friends - and her admirer - to rage out. She ends up sleeping with her admirer who had eyes on her at the party - a man named Riley - who also made frequent appearances at the restaurant she works at, and its probably safe to assume he goes there just to creep a little. After laying her face with makeup to hide the hideous infection that's taking over her body, she manages to lure Riley into her sleeping with her, and she ends up scratching his back up pretty bad just before he realizes... there's maggots falling out of her genitals. Riley bugs the fuck out - like any normal headed human would do - before getting as far away from Samantha as he possibly could.
Contracted is sick - it definitely kept my attention all the way through, and even kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see where exactly the whole story was going. It was clear from the beginning that Contracted was going to lead up to something, and the final payout is definitely worth your time and attention. The grossness of the film was superb - they did an excellent job at deteriorating poor Najarra Townsend's body to make her look like a real life Living Dead Doll. As her world crumbles before her, the film certainly gets you thinking, "what the fuck is the deal with this BJ dude?!" Contracted is definitely a recommended watch, as I think most people would be able to enjoy where the writers took this story line and even if you don't, there are definitely going to be scenes in the film (that I don't want to spoil) that will make you quite literally blurt out, "what the actual fuck." Give it a playthrough, even if it's just on in the background - I hope you'll dig it as much as I did!
Two years after Contracted was released, the disgusting and vile body horror story picks up right where the original left off in Contracted: Phase II. In the opening scene (which is a continuation of the ending of Contracted), you see poor Samantha brainlessly flailing about, and you quickly come to realize that she is no longer human... the infection has overcome Samantha and she is now a full-on zombie. As she attacks her mother and gets blown to pieces by police, the real star of Phase II makes his appearance: Riley. Prior to losing full control of her human self, Samantha finally gave her admirer Riley what he had been wanting since he first met her: her body. But in the midst of their brief love-making session (and before Riley realized she was literally leaking maggots out of her genitals), Samatha scratched him up pretty bad (as seen in the screenshot above) and... yep, you guessed it, Riley is the next carrier of the zombie infection, and the center of Phase II. Riley (played by Matt Mercer) begins to show all the same symptoms of the infection that Samantha does - but even after getting checked out by his brother-in-law doctor, Riley knows something is terribly wrong. As Riley tries to play down the infection and live out his normal day-to-day (like attending the memorial service for Samantha and going on a little date with his grandmother's caretaker), he begins to infect those around him. As the world around him begins to also fall apart - much like Samantha's did - the film shows some of the back-end police work going on, as they try to figure out what the deal is with BJ - the man from the party who infected Samantha in the first place. As it turns out, BJ is trying to put an end to the human race, and a zombie apocalypse is how he chooses to do it. The final scenes of the film close it out on a pretty satisfying note, and there's a particularly nice little twist at the end that - without a doubt - opens up the doors to a Contracted III.
Contracted was more of a body horror film - the duration of the film was spent watching Samantha's body break down as she succumbed to the infection. Contracted: Phase II feels like it is more so an actual zombie film than it does a body horror. You certainly see plenty of nasty in the movie (my particular favorite being an eyeball that falls out in an attempt to remove a contact lens), but it feels like you are watching more of a zombie film go down than you are just a gross film. If you saw the first Contracted film and didn't totally hate it, Phase II is most definitely worth your time: there is enough bits and pieces added to it that it doesn't feel like a complete remake of its predecessor. The story line surrounding BJ and his hatred for humanity is interesting enough, and while there isn't a whole lot of information given about our madman (such as how he was able to spread the infection without becoming a zombie himself or what the deal with having sex with the dead body in the opening of the first film was), there's enough to make it interesting. Matt Mercer's portrayal of Riley is pretty awesome - his character is very likable, regardless of the fact that he's kinda infecting everyone around him (accidentally, of course) with the zombie infection.
Watching Contracted and Contracted: Phase II as a double feature is highly recommended, as it is what we did here at Soulless - and it was a pretty incredible moment-by-moment lead in from the first movie to the second movie; really well done. The story has its fun twist and turns, and it ends on a pretty decent note that makes the film worth your time. Like the first film, if you are into sick, nasty, zombie films - Contracted: Phase II would definitely be a film I'd recommend you give time to, especially if you liked the first film even slightly. Honestly, though, if you were not into the original film, pass on Phase II, you probably aren't going to like it any more than you did the first one. I definitely enjoyed it, and would even go back for a second run-through sometime soon.