Contracted is a film I’ve been meaning to watch and review for quite some time now. It’s a body horror film about a girl who has casual, presumably unprotected sex with a stranger and begins to experience strange aftereffects, which she assumes are the results of a sexually transmitted disease. Her symptoms get stranger and stranger, starting with a headache and abdominal cramps and escalating quickly into more and more concerning ailments.
From the very beginning of the film, I found the acting very strange. It was not, by any means, believable. It was very stiff and altogether theatrical, and not in a pleasant way. That sad, it’s not a terrible film. It’s interesting (albeit disgusting) to watch the main character’s decline into paranoia and the deterioration of her body. It was more than a little ridiculous for Samantha to go to a doctor presenting with extreme bleeding, a strange rash on her abdomen, abdominal cramping, and a general feeling of malaise, have her tell her doctor that she had an unprotected casual sexual encounter 2 days prior, and have the doctor say “It’s a head cold and a rash” after checking her vitals without even doing an actual exam of any kind. That’s just not a believable situation. There were many situations that ended up similarly.
At many points throughout the film, I found myself severely grossed out and I mean, I’m not usually an easily disgusted person and I’m definitely not squeamish. I’m all for body horror, I’m all for being disgusted at a movie sometimes… but this was just over the top and unnecessary. I get it, the main character is not a nice person… to anyone at pretty much anytime during the movie. She spends the time she’s not looking in the mirror or sitting on or in front of the toilet telling people how much of a lesbian she is or being extremely rude and unpleasant to her mom. She’s turning into the person on the outside that she already has been on the inside – rotten and foul.
The special effects are impressive, though. They may be excessive and over-the-top, but they are cool-looking and they’re clearly where a big chunk of the budget, which I cannot find a number for.
I can’t say I enjoyed watching this movie, but I didn’t leave it saying, “That was an utter waste of my time” but at the same time, I wouldn’t watch it again. It definitely did something new with body horror, making the method of contraction sexual, but the slow decline of the character’s body was nothing new. It was old tricks made several times more disgusting, which isn’t necessarily a bonus – unless you’re into that sort of thing. It was incredibly difficult to sympathize with the main character because she’s not a likeable person in the first place.
The whole film feels like a part 1 and ends up feeling like an unfinished art project, while simultaneously feeling just a tad too long. This one might be worth a watch, but only if you don’t have a weak stomach and you can look past shoddy acting and unlikeable characters. So maybe… maybe this is one to skip.
Tagged: 2013, alice macdonald, body horror, caroline williams, contracted, Horror, katie stegeman, najarra townsend