Contracted (2013) Horror Movie Review



Eric England, who is best known for Madison County (2011), has created in Contracted a great commentary on the fears of sexually transmitted diseases.

The film opens with an unknown man, who we learn from the credits is Simon Barrett (writer of You’re Next, A Horrible Way To Die, Autoerotic, and segments of ABC’s Of Death, V/H/S and V/H/S 2) committing an act of necrophilia in a morgue. From here we go straight to our star, the complicated Samantha played perfectly by Najarra Townsend. We learn quickly that Sam and her girlfriend Nikki (Katie Stegeman) are experiencing turbulence in their relationship. Sam’s friend Alice (Alice MacDonald) is throwing a bash and wants her to cut loose, but as the party progresses and the alcohol kicks in Sam falls prey to the unknown man who provides her next drink. The next thing Sam knows she is waking up with what she believes is the worst hangover of her life, but soon it becomes clear that it is something far worse.

Eric England achieves his grotesque vision without the use of CGI, and as a result Contracted will live on while so many other low budget horror films will fall to the wayside. Abject horror and body horror seem to always find their target audiences. These films cater to our fears of something ravaging us from within. From Invasion Of The Body Snatchers onward, the terror of transformation or mutation has captivated viewers.

The king of body horror is, of course, David Cronenberg, and many will liken Contracted with him and more specifically The Fly – which shows the slow and disgusting mutation of Jeff Goldblum into Brundlefly. England uses the disintegration of The Fly while also the sexuality found in Cronenberg’s Shivers and Rabid. Both of Cronenberg’s earlier films feature a parasite created by science that is passed via a semi-sexual act. In Shivers once someone is infected with the phallic parasite they become a sexual zombie. In Rabid there is a carrier who uses her phallic parasite to draw blood and thus infect her victims with a variant of a fast acting form of rabies. By combining these elements, Contracted could be considered as a mere tribute film paying homage to Cronenberg, but there is a lot more to England’s film.

Samantha is a product of a narcissistic generation, and while she does seek medical attention, she does not want help from anyone else. She cannot even fully admit the cause of her illness, so she chooses to bear it alone. In doing so, her naivete offers moments of humor in the face of her transformation.

Julia Kristeva (philosopher, critic, psychoanalyst, feminist, novelist) writes at length about the abject in her article “Powers of Horror.” The abject in terms of horror relates to the fear of what is physically inside us – i.e. blood, bone, guts, excrement – coming out and how it forces us to contemplate our own mortality.

 “A wound with blood and puss, or the sickly acrid smell of sweat, of decay, does not signify death… These bodily fluids, this defilement, this sh*t are what life withstands hardly and with difficulty, on the part of death. There, I am at the border of my condition as a living being.” (Powers of Horror, 3)

 Kristeva speaks of death infecting life. When we are witness to the physiology of our own fragile bodies, we experience both fear and joy. We are drawn to the abject as a way of cathartically coping with our own inevitable decay.

By infusing a degree of melodrama into the narrative, a layer of comedy also emerges. England allows us to experience the abject while at the same time he relieves us from the guilt of taking pleasure in it. This is the brilliance of Contracted.

4.5 / 5 stars     


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      1. Branden October 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm

        Whoa! Like she’s transforming into a zombie!

      2. Branden Van Sciver October 20, 2013 at 10:01 pm

        And when does this come out again?

      3. changeling69 October 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        This here flick might make someone avoid watching porn anymore, hehehhehehehehehhehehe :)

      4. dougberg October 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm

        This excites me. I like the premise. A different take on the zombie story of people being infected from a government lab or some CDC oversight. I like it and cannot wait to see it.

      5. Eric England October 21, 2013 at 8:30 pm

        Thank you for such a glowing review. I’m glad you enjoyed the film!

      6. Lorna November 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm

        Really great movie..main actress was great..

      7. dricki (@k4ylapee) November 30, 2013 at 11:16 pm

        cant wait to see this!

      8. Aaron Cox December 6, 2013 at 5:15 am

        I liked this movie, but I knew I was going to after watching the trailer. The acting was pretty good, and the effects were pretty awesome. The only problem I had with the movie was the girls lack of worry. I would have been freaking out, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway I really did like the movie, it was a nice touch to a played genre. Can’t wait to see more from Eric, this is what makes me want to become a filmmaker. 4/5

      9. Frankie December 17, 2013 at 2:11 am

        At first, I didn’t want to see the film just because I didn’t like the cover and the fact that it looked like a “B” movie. Well, somehow, I decided to give it a shot and watch it. I’m so glad I did. Throughout the whole movie I kept thinking to myself, she contracted AIDS! But the end freaked the hell out of me. Now, I’m using condoms EVERYTIME!!! Damn movie! Very good movie and although I like zombies…the message behind the movie was well taken!

      10. Peter Goesinya February 5, 2014 at 7:29 pm

        This movie was boring and lame as f*ck, not to mention annoying .The b*itch in this movie is so dumb at times, you find yourself getting angry. At the very least the main character could have shown her t*ts and that might have gave the movie at least one thing interesting to look at.

      11. William Francis Corsair February 13, 2014 at 6:23 am

        You’d have to be pretty delusional to rate this highly. At least in Thanatomorphose the girl’s acceptance of her Kafkaesque transformation makes some sense, she felt she was/existed as something so less than human as a/an inanimate/dead thing. That’s why she wasn’t surprised or shocked when she was turning undead, evident throughout the film. Instead of this insipid waste of paper deus ex machina infection plot here. Necrophiliac magically f**ks the T-virus into existence, REALLY!?! In Contracted she’s just an oblivious poorly written character, she SHOULD have motivation to look after her health because there’s not a damn thing implied, explicitly or implicitly, that would keep her from addressing it, except for the sake of advancing the plot without justification. Absolutely infuriating. By all means, eat up this s**t with a grin, but put down the spoon once in a while and recognize a bad movie when it’s sitting in your bowl.

      12. William Francis Corsair February 13, 2014 at 6:28 am

        Also, there were numerous continuity errors throughout the film.

        • s March 24, 2014 at 2:43 am

          Piece of Crap!!

      13. JBrad March 26, 2014 at 7:38 pm

        THIS was a fantastic movie! I must admit, I debated as to whether or not to watch it because, in my opinion, the recent explosion of horror/zombie movies has been very disappointing but it was either man-up and take a chance or watch something I have already seen far too many times. Contracted won. And I was not disappointed. It is an interesting, modern take on Zombies except this film focused on the actual transformation process of a viral host. Anyone who slams this film is missing the point. It’s obviously low budget. Therefore, there will be things like poor character development, per se, but this film wasn’t about that. There was no time for it. She contracted the virus right from the start and God doesn’t even know what a virus can do once it begins to mutate. And I highly doubt anyone would be so quick as to run off to see a doctor if they were in her shoes. Samantha was an emotional wreck. She hated her life and suffered from a low self-esteem and an identity crisis. Seeing a doctor is the last thing she was going to do. Anyway, it was a good movie overall. Definitely a sleeper.

      14. sonia April 3, 2014 at 4:12 am

        I liked this movie I really did but I’m a why person and was left with many why questions… can some one please explain the beginning to me a little bit more and if she was infected why was he not. And what in the he’ll happen to Riley to many questions sorry

      15. Hudston April 9, 2014 at 10:27 pm

        I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy this film even slightly. There wasn’t a single person who behaved in a believable manner at all.

        The main character was portrayed as too normal, even with an implied history of drug abuse, to not at some point approach one of several supporting characters and say “Help, I’m bleeding from literally everywhere and my teeth, hair and nails are falling off!”

        Don’t even get me started on the mother who thinks that drugs can turn you from perfectly healthy to a veiny, rotten toothed zombie in 2 days, the doctor that thinks that visible, black veins are the same thing a rash and the restaurant owner who has no problem letting someone who has “really bad pink eye” prepare and serve food to his customers.

        The zombie virus as STD thing is a good premise, but the whole thing was just frustrating from start to finish.

      16. Karissa April 16, 2017 at 2:31 am

        Love both movies! Will there be a 3rd movie?!