March 26, 2014

Movie Review: Contracted (2013)

Do you have any idea how hard it can be to pick a movie to watch? If you over think it, you may end up not watching anything. Sometimes it is just better to close your eyes and point. That is pretty much how I cam to watch Contracted, a low budget indie tale of body horror that is plenty gooey and initially offers some social commentary before devolving into straight up grossness. It is not a perfect film, but it is one that will get under your skin, as it begins to rot away, that is.

The film was written and directed by Eric England, a young filmmaker who made the backwoods slasher Madison County a few years back. I have not seen that film, but it looks interesting enough. If Contracted is a good look at his developing skills, it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. He definitely has a good grasp of the technique, just focus the writing a touch more and we could really be on to something. It is not that this is bad, but it does seem to get lost in the horror later on.

Samantha (Najarra Townsend) goes to a party where she gets a little (well, a lot) drunk. A creepy makes a pass with what would seem to be a drugged drink and before you know it, Samantha is being date raped (although don't listen for this anywhere) in the back of a car. After the night of indiscretion, Sam goes back to her lesbian lover and her day job as a waitress. This is where the horror begins. I don't really want to describe it too much, but let's say that it starts simple enough, but gets progressively grosser.

The movie offers no real answers, just an unsettling horrific experience, but it does hint at social commentary. There is the obvious connection to abstinence or at least safe sex. There is a brief touch on the ineffectiveness of the healthcare system. We also get a bit of relationship strife and dysfunctional family politics. Now, even with all of this, it is really all about watching Samantha slowly begin to decompose over the span of a few days,

Now, if you put any commentary aside (like the last, maybe, third of the movie) you will find the glue that holds this movie together. Najarra Townsend's performance is really very good. She does a great job of really carrying the weight of the movie. She goes through a whole range of believable emotions and just really falls apart on camera. It is really good work, and even if you don't like the movie, check it out for her performance. Oh yes, also watch for Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2) in a supporting role.

Bottom line is Contracted is a good movie. Not great, but it is keeps its plot simple and keeps things moving forward. Check it out, you may be surprised by what you find, and maybe a little grossed out.

One thing to keep in mind, and it bothered me long after the movie ended, it is the fact that neither Samantha nor anyone else mentions rape. There is no mention of the act as rape, it is pretty clear what was going on, but even the promotional material refers to it as a one night stand. If that is what you think a one night stand is, I think we have bigger things to be thinking about. I found that to be a rather disturbing piece of the puzzle. That is probably more unsettling than what actually happens to her.


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