Samantha's a lesbian woman currently in a rocky relationship, and after being sweet talked and drugged one night ends up sleeping with a man at a party. When she wakes up and has to come to terms with not only having slept with a man, but that she contracted something from him. In the upcoming days she becomes weaker and slowly starts to decay.
Body horror seems to have become relevant again. Or maybe it's just that this generation of filmmakers really love body horror and want to make their own. But it's nice to think that within these horror themes are some deeper meanings and points to be made, and body horror is something that obviously is such a personal horror that taking a stance with the plot would fall natural. Diseases, pains and even psychological problems can change so much in our lives, both psychologically and physically, and there are several ways to go from there. Whether it is relevant in our present or not, there have been a number of body horror features and shorts that have stood out in recent memory: the shorts "Familiar", "Bruised" and "Other" all handled the body horror style differently but equally well, while the features "Thanatomorphose" and "Halley" seperate from each other in the direction they are heading. In between the two latter features is where I would put "Contracted" - being a third movie that shows a person slowly rotting away.
When Samantha goes to a party with her friend, a man quickly introduces himself and hands her a drink. Before she knows it, she's in a car having sex with this stranger. The problem is that Samantha is a lesbian, and more importantly in a rocky relationship with Nikki. This small incident could easily be forgotten about and covered carefully, but sadly Samantha contracted some sort of disease from this man. But what? Well, the movie starts with this man sleeping with a dead body in a morgue, so she might have contracted a bit... rigor mortis, death, you name it? Personally I like this idea, it's not realistic but it really works within the realms of body horror. In the following three days, Samantha is slowly going through some very weird physical changes such as intense bleeding from her vagina and severe paleness growing from her nether regions and slowly covering her entire body. The doctors can't find an answer, and meanwhile she tries to work out her personal life.
I'm very open to the idea of this movie, that she's slowly turning into something dead. A zombie, basically, which isn't a new idea but one that works for me. Like the other mentioned titles, the most important thing is how it is handled. "Thanatomorphose" was disgusting to a level on par with Cronenberg's "The Fly", "Halley" went with a very sad and depressing tone to make it different. "Contracted", unfortunately, doesn't offer much we haven't seen in the genre. It's not that I feel it rips it off, but maybe the filmmaker hasn't seen enough? The decaying isn't terrible, but certain things such as pulling a tooth out in front of a mirror is just a very typical thing to show. Sometimes it works, but mostly it feels old. Even that doesn't make "Contracted". It might make it less unique, but I was still curious where this would go. Where it went from there is a lot worse, however.
The movie suffers extensively from illogical human behavior, poor decisions and just generally being unrealistic in its character development. It's a movie where you'll find yourself screaming at the screen for the characters to do something right. It's hard to believe that someone doesn't react to Samantha's clearly rotting body, rather than bringing up other issues they have with her. Sure, her mother is scared that she has gone back to her old drug-heavy life, but even then you'd think she would take her to the hospital and put her in intensive care when she sees her eyes bleed, huge wounds around her mouth, pale white skin and veins showing through, etc. I don't think she would be an arrogant cunt then, would she? Many of the other characters are just as stupid, rarely acknowledging her obviously physical problem and instead focusing on their own beefs. Is that what the filmmaker wanted? Was it trying to say something about people being too into their own thing? I'd love to think so, but the movie doesn't make a good case for it so I really doubt it. Instead it just seems like the movie takes a fun idea, goes an obvious route with it, and then adds moronic characters and decisions all of it. Once Samantha has contracted this virus, there is really only one scene I thought was emotionally strong, and that's when she's kicked out of a contest she has strived for. A small, simple thing that was effective, but the rest just doesn't grab me. The movie should also have skipped its final ending, and if anything simply implying it would have worked.
The decaying is a lot more realistic than "Thanatomorphose" (but the extremes of that movie was also intentional), and is very drama heavy so it works well for it. I don't feel the movie needed to push itself further into disgust or to be graphic - it wasn't the movie for it. It has some so-so effects but overall I don't have many complaints here.
At least "Contracted" knows where to draw the line to make sure the characters is what matters and not the effects or the gore, but it sort of ruined it by not having that great characters to begin with. Frankly, Samantha was the best character but she is met with incredible stupidity that even she managed to sink. I don't think "Contracted" is a terrible movie at all, but it's not good. It's mediocre with some good scenes and then a lot of bad ones. Maybe the movie is easier to accept if you haven't seen a number of great, similar, movies before. The idea works even though it's not different, so if you can look past the rest of the poor decisions, then maybe you'll love. I tried hard to, I really wanted to like the movie, but I'm sad to say I quickly felt like it rejected my intellect in human behavior (the very little I have) and just threw stupid people at me.