So Herp suggested that I watch the movie Contracted (or demanded, but who’s keeping track), requesting a review of said movie. Now, generally speaking, I fully appreciate the discussions we have regarding movies, and most of the time our tastes align. However, there is one genre that we often don’t see eye to eye on, and that would be any movie that falls close to the horror genre. I am not a horror movie fan. Before you shout expletives at the screen (depending on which side of the line you fall) let me explain. I can certainly appreciate a movie in the genre, however, the crutches that horror directors usually fall upon do not often appeal to me. Sure, I can appreciate a good decapitation, laugh at a tongue-in-cheek death scene, and sit on the edge of my seat at a thrilling zombie flick, but these stereotypes just don’t get my goat as much as, say, a well directed action sequence. Both can fall into the same traps of cheesiness, or corniness, or over-doneness, I just appreciate the latter more. That being said, I decided to give the movie a try.
I first looked up a synopsis of the movie, all of which were pretty dead on: A girl(Samantha) has a random hookup with a guy one night and starts to fall quickly, and terribly ill. Bad quickly turns to worse, etc., etc. Okay, so I had an idea of what to expect. My hopes were not high. The only thing forcing me onward to watch the movie was Herp’s opinion (dubious at best). After a very recent viewing (5 minutes ago), I think the review can be summed up best by listing the good and the bad.
- Creepiness Factor- A major factor in any good freakout movie is the creepiness factor. How much does the movie make hairs stand up on your arm? Do you get short of breath at any point? This movie definitely has a great build up through its first and second acts. The recent ebola scare only makes this matter worse. What would you do, what would you think, if your body slowly started to deteriorate? Freak the hell out is what.
- The Tone- The tone of any movie is important, usually it is divided by whether the director knows what he/she is going for and whether they are capable of pulling it off. With Contracted this point is a good and bad. There is a mysterious quality set by the ambiguity of the introduction and how quickly things are set into motion with the opening act. It raises your suspicions, which I find to be a good quality in a movie of this sort. I want to be tense, I want to be curious. What I don’t want is to be bored, and that, I certainly was not.
- The Gross-Out Factor- This one is for true fans of the genre, which I am not, so you’re welcome. There is a sickening awe that some have with watching someone slowly come apart, both physically and mentally. While I can appreciate it and am capable of being entertained by it, it is not a top priority for me. However, it is one of the few things that makes you relate to the character, so that’s a win.
- The Writing- The dialogue in this movie wasn’t terrible, nor was it good, and there in lies the problem. It is completely and utterly mediocre and forgettable. I could probably watch much of this movie without dialogue and have the same effect. Now, I wasn’t expecting it to be witty (quite the opposite) but there was neither any snappy one-liners, or any exposition to take seriously enough to affect the story.
- The Tone- This was mentioned in the good, however, points are also deducted for the unevenness of the tone. Sure, some moments seem quite deliberate and meaningful, however, others seem forced and unnecessary. I don’t want to post any spoilers, so I won’t quote specific scenes, but occasionally the tonal shifts are so abrupt and without meaning, that it just seems a bit awkward.
- The Acting- Najarra Townsend, who plays the leading role, does an admiral job as the “contracted” victim Samantha. Her growing paranoia and erractic behavior are convincing, but this really only works on her trip to Crazytown. Once she gets there, all bets are off. Everyone else in the movie is as forgettable as the script.
- The Character Development- Now, I fully believe that sometimes characters are meant to be left undeveloped. Usually, it helps the viewer focus more on the story, or on the dialogue, or overarching view. However, this movie, in the end, is interested in none of these. Maybe Eric England was trying to send a message about random sex, or homosexuality, or sex with men for that matter, but that’s pretty far reaching. When it comes down to it, this is a movie about watching a girl with some random illness quickly fall to pieces. A movie like this rests much on the emotion invested in that character. Unfortunately, that investment is very small with the role of Samantha. The build up is fast, which saves time. However, this also keeps you from getting to know her. This is overcome slightly by the sheer gross out effect (see above), but the fault can not entirely be excused. And, although sometimes supporting actors can be used as positive or negative counterpoints, neither one of those is the case in this flick.
What this movie really comes down to is: Are you a fan of this type of film? Once you see it, you will know what I mean. Major gross out factors, definitely creepy, but pretty shallow and without any meaning for anyone who cares, Contracted will spread to those who want it to. That being said, I give it 2/5 Ninja Stars.