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.