How often do I see a film, much less a horror film, featuring a protagonist who is, quite simply, unlikable? Well, not that often. Especially in the case of a slasher flick or some other variation of horror wherein the main character winds up being a “final girl.” You know, a virgin who doesn’t drink, do drugs, or even curse. Allow me to inform you that Contracted is an exception to that rule.
Samantha is hardly, in any way, a sympathetic character. Not including an ex-girlfriend who can hardly stand talking to her, she is nasty to everyone she comes in contact with. It is a wonder she can maintain her job as a server at the rather nice restaurant she works at. Forget about any male approaching her, as she will give them the absolutely disinterested cold shoulder before finding a reason to slip away. During a lunch with her ex, she does nothing to intervene while her lunch partner rips a guy to shreds for having the nerve to mention he believes he knows Samantha. Add “spineless” to the mix. When her mother attempts to pleasantly engage her in dinnertime conversation, she is met with indignant and argumentative retorts meant to shut down communication in the way a spoiled teenager might react to being asked about their day. The only person to receive a modicum of tenderness is the mystery man who she escapes a party with by hiding in his car. This is in reaction to being jilted by the object of her affection.
Oh, but wait. This isn’t some party time average joe. No, this is a necrophiliac rapist who has his way with her against her will after dropping some roofies in her drink. This choice to leave with the man, kept in unfocused view to mimic Samantha’s perception, will be the worst decision she has ever made. Along with being violated against her will, she is now the victim of a virulent form of STD that acts to make its host body a member of the living dead.
Most films with an undead component to them either have a, for lack of a better term, zombie causing havoc from the beginning of the movie, or at least by the mid-point. Not Contacted, no, this film details Samantha’s slowly evolving predicament of dying over a three-day period. She is constantly displaying more symptoms including subconjunctival hemorrhage (bloody-looking eyes), copious amounts of vaginal bleeding, hematemesis (bloody vomiting), facial necrosis (rotting), clumps of hair loss, rotten gums, and other disgusting bits I will not go into detail on. While the film is light on actual gore, many scenes revolve around some form of blood loss.
I will admit that during my viewing, I witnessed the foulest sex scene I have ever watched in my existence.
While it would be easy to write off Contracted as a morality tale, or as having the heavy analogous lesson of the perils of intoxication mixed with promiscuous sexual activity, I strongly feel that that is not what the film makers were reaching for. I truly believe they wished to tell the most horrifying metamorphosis story they were able to. If any lesson is to truly be gleaned, it is the danger of one being able to accept blindness or a lack of awareness in pursuit of a highly desired goal. We can turn off all internal warning alarms if the treasure we seek is within our grasp.
I absolutely loved this movie, although I do feel the need to mention one detail that took me out of the story momentarily. Briefly put, if a hunk was bitten out of someone’s neck, the wound would bleed profusely. If they were laying on the floor, a pool of blood would collect, as opposed to just a minute amount of red around the actual wound.
All in all, Contracted is a brilliant and original feature that I give eight out of ten spooks to. Highly recommended.