Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Contracted (2013).

I think now that the zombie pudding has been well over-egged, my preferred type of zed in a film is the zed who doesn't know they are one.

With a couple of hours to myself I threw this on Netflix the other night, and found it to be an impressive and tight little 1hr24min flick, mostly dealing with a slow burn of a undead transformation.

The word zombie is never used, by the way, and the only true groan-shuffle-I-want-brains action comes right at the very end. The rest of the movie is a series of escalating gross things happening to the main character's body and her and various family and friends' reaction to them. Structurally, this worked really well.

The story: Samanatha is lovesick and at a party on her own...

Her shitty girlfriend couldn't make it/is ignoring her calls, so Sam does some shots, cuts loose a little bit and before she knows what's happening, she's with some random guy in a car. We see through her POV that it pretty much plays out that way, too: the car's interior comes into view, along with a blurry, faceless male body moving on top of her. It is made very clear Sam has changed her mind. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to matter.

The scenes within the party are really my only complaint about this film.
A) It was a looooong build. I will admit the delayed title screen was effective, but the party in itself could have set up what it needed to in way less time.
And B) It transpires later that the quirky drug dealer friend of Sam's sold Rohypnol to a guy at the party. What the fuck. So Sam was definitely date-raped.
Also B(i) Netflix calls this a "one night stand" in its blurb about the movie. Not sure how I feel about that. Trigger warning, anyone?

So this assault as a plot device... I suppose I don't have a problem with it...? Yes and no. Why did it have to be rape? Why couldn't she just have got drunk and fucked the guy? This aspect does add another layer of discomfort to proceedings though, and paints "BJ" (the infected rapist in question) as a far more terrifying presence to be out there in the world doing his thing.

Maybe it's more the flippant way the entire thing is confirmed in the narrative. I know in real life people must buy and sell that drug; what made me uncomfortable was that the drug dealer was portrayed as someone pretty normal - irritating perhaps, but not unlikeable - and not an arsehole who sells date rape pills.

In any case, I respect the film more for making me think about this, rather than less. It's a good story told well, with added controversial/offensive bite that the viewer can unpack for themselves.

After the party and the sexual assault, the narrative then charts the next three days of Sam's physical degeneration. At first she thinks she feels so rough due to a massive hangover, then she thinks it's a possible sexually transmitted infection. We never see if she ever realises the full horrific extent of what she has contracted.

A touch I really liked? This one:

And fade in...

There was a moment towards the end where one can perhaps argue the film could've ended and been as good, or better. It would have been blunt, but it would have had punch. I suppose it depends how much of a blatant zombie payoff you ultimately wanted.

There's plenty of body horror - although done with some finesse, no T or A in this one - with bloody sheets ("It's just my period. I think?") and teeth and fingernails falling off.

The sex scene at the end made me laugh with its inclusion of the line "Oh my god you're so wet!" because of course she is, it's literally a bloody putrefying vagina you are dealing with there, my friend. This scene also serves as a smooth continuation of the horror, seeing as Sam herself contracted it from sex with a dude we see banging a corpse (off camera) at the very start of the movie. So the virus lives on past the end credits. Gruesome stuff.

Monday, March 31, 2014

They Came Back / The Returned / Les Revenants (2004).

As someone who has relatively recently lost a loved one, the idea of this film resonated deeply with me.

The plot (and that of the TV show adaptation, which I'm still in two minds about watching) deals with a well trodden genre idea: the dead coming back to life. But here, it's not in a conventionally horrific way. This is all very civilised - which makes it that much more creepy, if you ask me.

The recently risen calmly stroll out of the cemetery in their pastel clothes.

It was the questions Les Revenants raised with me that I found interesting. Would you want a dead relative back, really? It's easy to jump to a "yes" response, but what about the small-print? What if they come back and they are "broken" in some way?

I was reminded of the Buffy episode Forever, where Dawn tries to bring her mum back from the dead with black magic. We never see Joyce reanimated, but the viewer is led to believe that it would be more of a zombie-Joyce than the lovely Summers matriarch we grew to love. Eventually Dawn realises this thing would not be the same as having her mother back, and breaks the spell before it appears.

So what if you could have your loved one back and they were nearly normal? Good enough? But what if they came back suddenly, without warning, after you have learned to live with your loss?

Of course you want not to have had a close relative die at all, but the "returned" here aren't jumping back to a time pre-death; this plot deals with them coming back after their demise (natural or not), after their families have grieved and gone some way to reconcile and move on. And these aren't violent zombies, they are recognisable enough as their old selves, and yet they aren't the same as before. Something is... off. They seem detached from the world. The town eventually decides to almost class them as a type of "disabled" citizen, as even though they can function in society to a degree, they can't carry out some roles. They have the knowledge they died with, however they cannot seem to learn and grow from that.

So how much do you want them back? Would you want that person returned to you, even if they weren't quite as before, as you remember and love them? How much is too much to put up with, for merely having them in your life again? It's a heartbreaking and terrifying series of questions. 

Two of the characters in this film are a married couple whose young son was tragically killed. When he returns, they deal in different ways with absorbing him back into their lives, especially once his behaviour starts to become increasingly (more) odd. His life was cut short and this is another chance - but at what cost?

For such an interesting premise, executed in the main with a very eerie and atmospheric build, the ending to this film ultimately fell flat for me. It was a bit of a Lost situation: I don't know what I expected, but I was still disappointed! However I would recommend this to anyone in the mood for a very still, thought-provoking film.

Anyone seen the TV show? Thoughts, comments on it? Does it explore what I have touched upon above, and more? I always thought a victim of murder would be an interesting returnee, too.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Eat your icing and gain your knowledge.

I take no credit for this (that's all for Juicefoozle) but this desktop wallpaper design looks like zombie cupcakes, no?

Find this and more, here: Spooky and non! It's a page I check out regularly, and there's always more designs I love than I've desktops to decorate...