There’s something about watching the human body slowly transform into unspeakable terror that will always find a way under my skin, and director Eric England delivers just that in his body horror feature Contracted. There are a few moments in the film that make this one a solid enough entry in the body horror genre, but its story and the questionable decisions made by its characters turn this one away from what could have been something great. It centers around a young girl who has a one-night stand with a stranger and contracts what she thinks is a sexually transmitted disease—but it is actually something far worse. As things begin to crumble around her, she is sent on a disturbing journey.
I love the set-up for the film as we see a gorgeous girl, played by the talented Najarra Townsend, have a one-night stand with a mysterious guy who ends up giving her a gift that keeps on giving—a sexually transmitted disease. It doesn’t take long before we find out that this isn’t your ordinary case of the itch, instead it’s something much more terrifying. And this is where Contracted gets it right as far as body horror goes. Watching Townsend’s character, Samantha, slowly rot from the inside out was pretty horrifying at times and is without a doubt the film’s strongest element. What was great about watching her body fall apart was that you also hear it as well. The sound design was phenomenal, making that sweet sound of slowly peeling off a fingernail all the better.
My problem with the film is that while the story takes its time building tension and grossing you out along the way, there’s no real reward. It’s essentially an hour and half of watching this girl fall apart one tooth at a time, and that’s about it. And then there’s the characters that make some decisions that are almost more disturbing than watching Samantha’s body decompose in front of our eyes. Who in their right mind would put their mouth in and or around a girl that looks like she just crawled out of a Romero flick? Exactly, no sane person would do something like that. And not one, but two characters in the film completely ignore the fact she’s basically a walking corpse and decide kissing and bumping uglies would be a good idea. Thanks, but no thanks. If someone that looks like that tries to put their tongue down my throat I’m only thinking one thing: Kill it with fire!
I think that Contracted got right what it was trying to do, for the most part. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t hit the mark beyond its gross-out moments. This was a tough flick for me to give a rating because I enjoyed the body horror elements of the film, but in the end I had much higher hopes so I ended up leaving this one disappointed. I hope you guys check this one out for yourselves because the film offers some horrific moments and Townsend dials in on a very entertaining performance.