Overview: After being date raped at a party, a young woman starts to exhibit increasingly strange and gruesome symptoms. Borderlight Pictures/Southern Fried Films; 2013; Unrated; 73 Minutes.
Just So You Know, We’re Totally Cool with That: Samantha (Najarra Townsend) is an orchid spritzer. No, that’s not a euphemism for “lesbian.” Or, okay, maybe it is a euphemism. Because, while the movie is uncomfortably obsessed with Samantha’s sexuality, her lesbianism never means anything to the movie. Her spotty past that is heavily referenced? Doesn’t really amount to anything, either. In fact, nothing really comes together here.
When It’s Bad, You Know Early: It may seem a cheap shot given the known limited budgets for horror movies like these, but Jesus, the first act of this movie exhibits the most wooden screen performances I’ve seen since my Human Resources training videos. Further, a limited budget doesn’t excuse a story that is so indecisive that it shifts from viral horror, to murder story and, at the literal last minute, a freaking out-of-nowhere zombie movie.
The Horror Element: It’s all in the viral symptoms. The red eyeball, the mid-makeout blood vomit, the swollen dark veins crawling up her stomach suggesting a mess down in her orchid patch (that’s a euphemism). The closest the film comes to testing the gag reflex is when, during an unprotected and malicious sex session, Samantha cooter-belches a bunch of maggots. Just about anything this movie tries to do with over-the-top nastiness, Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever accomplished first and more effectively. And I hated Cabin Fever.
Be Careful What Company You Keep: In the past decade, there’s been a subgenre trend in indie horror movies wherein an alleged feminist statement is articulated by presenting a storyline in which a female, by some affliction of circumstance or another, is empowered to kill, normally in revenge or outrage against some patriarchal value, oppressive behavior, rejection, or rape. I’d suggest the examples Deadgirl, American Mary, May, or Teeth, but I’d never suggest any of those movies for any reason, because they aren’t good either. I’ve always been completely supportive of empowering females. Even as a kid I made sure to watch both segments of American Gladiators! But lazy, sloppy, uncertain movies can’t be saved by noble intent. Contracted is aiming to file itself amongst the ranks of these recent films, and, at least by measurement of how much it sucks, it earns its place.
Overall: Contracted is the best horror movie about STDs that I’ve ever seen. It’s also the worst.
Grade: F +