To paraphrase comedic legend Patton Oswald “the dating scene is a nightmare with boners in it” and that’s the truth. Trying to “pick up”a potential partner is nothing but an onslaught of insecurity and panic over the impeding rejection. It’s a “scene” that could not be any worse ( these opinions of course come from a recluse who runs a podcast… so you know the ladies were all over this….) It feels like Eric England (writer/director of Contracted) thought “Hey! Not only do I want to make a balls to the wall body horror flick, but I also want to make sure the boner nightmare that is the “dating scene” is as terrifying as ever!”. Well it’s safe to say Mr. England has succeeded at both. Weird thing is how much I enjoyed it…
Samantha’s (Najarra Townsend) life is a mess. Between her shit waitress job and over bearing mother (played TCM 2’s Caroline Williams) she can barely find time to focus on her competition orchid (yeah, there are in fact competitions for who can grow the best flower and yes I had to google that confirm…). To make matters worse her girlfriend just gave her the boot and she was forced to move back in with her mom. To blow off steam Samantha heads to a friend’s house party where she knocks back one too many and ends up in the back seat of a car with super creeper of the year BJ (Simon Barrett). Days later Samantha starts to realize BJ might have passed something on to her. Something that is slowly rotting her for the inside out ( when I typed that last sentence I had super eerie music playing in my head…).
Prior to catching the STD from hell Samantha is a hot mess. We slowly learn that she is a recovering addict who has made some bad decisions up to this point. So when her body begins to fall apart it feels natural that she would react the way she does and Najarra Townsend delivers a strong performance. Watching her decay (both psychically and mentally) is only for the strongest of stomachs. Eric England does not hold back and goes straight for the jugular when it comes to the gross. This movie has so many cringe worthy scenes it’s ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong Contracted is not just a splatter flick. It has some meat to it and England isn’t a afraid to tear that meat apart and toss it right in our face.
Speaking of the splatter Contracted might be the most brutal and gut wrenching flick of the year. England does a fantastic job of fully evolving his character in the short screen time. This in turn makes it that much harder to watch Samantha’s body turn on itself and that’s putting it lightly. The special effects are top-notch and used subtly at first but build to a terrifying hurricane of gore. Viewer be warned this flick is not people with uneasy stomachs.
My biggest problem with Contracted was how everyone else reacts to Samantha when she clearly needs help. For an over bearing mother Caroline Williams really dropped the ball on this one. I understand she has a past with drug abuse but after the 1st day it’s pretty goddamned clear that your daughter might need an antibiotic in the very least! That brings me to the worlds most incompetent physician. Seriously dude, she has maggots crawling out of her lady parts and you can’t at least prescribe some Monastat!?!? Let’s not forget about the line of people trying to sleep with Samantha. I got some pretty low standards but dear lord I draw the line when body parts start falling off… Okay for Najarra Townsend I’d make an exception.
Eric England has taken body horror to a new level. Thanks to a strong performance from his lead, England is able to keep Contracted from being more than just an excuse to show some gross shit. Don’t worry, there is plenty of nastiness to keep the most harden gore hound pleased. Just be warned this is not a first date movie. In fact never show this movie to anyone you plan on sleeping with in the near future….. I don’t know if England meant for it or not but looks like the christian right got a new way to promote abstinence.