By Cynthia Rzucidlo
Contracted (2014), written and directed by Eric England, is an IFC Midnight film which was released in March of 2014. IFC Midnight films are targeted toward a more niche market rather than a broad audience, the content of their films tend to be more disturbing and provocative; and Contracted is a perfect testament to that! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this film offers an original, stomach-turning story for the anti-romantic.
The film starts off with a man having sex with a corpse on a hospital gurney. The audience is only shown enough to speculate what is happening in order to keep the man’s identity a mystery. We’re then introduced to the main character Samantha, played by Najarra Townsend. We find Samantha down on her luck at a friend’s party, unsuccessfully begging her ex-girlfriend to come see her. While being rejected, Samantha is unknowingly drugged by a stranger with whom she ends up engaging in unprotected sex with, in the back of a car.
The rest of the film spans over the course of three days, throughout which Samantha’s problems go from bad to worse. Samantha quickly begins developing bizarre, grotesque symptoms emblematic of no known disease; such as abnormal blood-loss, rashes, loss of hair and fingernails, bloodshot eyes and much more. The progression of Samantha’s symptoms become almost unbearable to watch, as she quite literally falls apart at the seams. The most horrific part of the film is the sheer realism and believability of the gore. The disease takes an even more frightful turn when its symptoms seem to become more demonic than biological. However, gore is not the only thing you sign up for when viewing Contracted.
The somewhat cliff-hanger ending leaves room for audience interpretation, which in my opinion was the perfect way to end this film. Aside from the bad and seemingly amateur acting, I thought this was an overall good film. Although it was more obscene and disgusting than it was haunting or cinematic, the story was completely original. Not to mention, sometimes you’re just in the mood to be grossed out. This film works as a fantastic parable against having unprotected sex and it does a great job of mocking sex and relationships in general. A perfect choice for an anti-Valentine’s day chiller!