To say death is personal is an understatement since life is the most personal thing we have. That being said, the act of dying can be more so. Terminal diseases that slowly take our life away is something horrifying to watch, but what if it was taking our life away without killing us? That is the creepy premise of Eric England’s Contracted.
Contracted follows three days in the life (?) of Samantha (Najarra Townsend), a young waitress going through a rough relationship problem with her girlfriend Nikki (Katie Stegeman). While stood up at a party, she is hit on by a guy named B.J. Lonely and feeling rejected (and a little drunk), she is easily slipped a ruffie and raped.
Waking up the next morning with what she thinks is a hangover, she goes about her daily business. Her main activity seems to be holding her life together as best as she can, which isn’t easy.
In addition to a crumbling relationship, she has a hopelessly smitten admirer (or stalker, take your pick), a friend who is desperately trying to bed her, a mother who doesn’t approve her of lifestyle, the list goes on. Yes things are less than good for her and they are about to get worse. What she thinks is just a minor irritation and bleeding turns out to be something much more severe. A sexually transmitted disease unlike anything any one has ever witnessed…or lived to tell about. She is turning into something else, something dead…
Any film that starts off with a little necrophilia certainly wants you to know its intentions. Eric England wants to disturb you. Not with the usual tricks of the trade, but by truly taking you some place new. In a sense, he has reinvented the zombie film with his horrific implications that speak to us at our basic nature, which is that our social interaction can lead to something worse than death.
A lot of taboos are covered in this film, subtlety, but are present regardless. There is a lot of things going on but I don’t want to give them away. Let’s just say that the film deals with avoidance and responsibility, obsessiveness and love, and of course, life and death. All handled fantastically by actress Najarra Townsend. It’s her journey we are on and she does a masterful job making us care about a character that we could so easily dismiss as being pathetic and forgettable. It helps to be surrounded by good talent like Caroline Williams as her mother and Alice Macdonald as her BFF who wants more.
Contracted is a film that stands alone in the revisionist zombie sub genre. It brings something new to the table that has never really been utilized. It’s a sad and haunting tale that will stay with you long after it has ended. It’s not a particularly visceral film, but it has the ability to cut deeper with its emotional edge. The film is about dying, plain and simple. Not the life that was or death that inevitably will be. It’s about someone who is already dying emotionally and so far gone that she doesn’t realize what is happening to her. They say life is about the journey. In this case, death is as well.