Netflix Roulette: Contracted: Phase II

I’m sure that at this point you figured you would never hear from me again… sorry to disappoint, but I’m back. Now before you misconstrue the last sentence, let me make it clear that I’m not promising that I’ll be back in the same capacity. I have a full time job, I’m planning a wedding (well, it’s more like I’m assisting in the planning of a wedding… is it possible to be the sou chef of a wedding?), and I’ve fallen in a major Fallout 4 hole. So, what does it all mean? Well, here’s my hope (please note that I did not use the r-word (resolution)): I want to have at least a weekly presence on my blog. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to post a discussion of a film, though, that would be my hope. More likely, I will continue to post random thoughts and trailers. I could go into a long discussion of why I decided to make a return… but really, all you need to do is look back to my second post (way back in May). Basically, I couldn’t wait until this summer to feed my creative side. Okay… this is not what you are here for (and I assume I truly am writing to a single person… Hi Jenna!) you’re here for a thoughtful analysis of horror movies… no, I know… you’re hear for snark…

Before I get started with today’s movie I need to make two disclosures (yes, the preamble continues). First, I have a bit of six-degrees-of-separation thing going on with this movie. I am close friends with two people who are acquaintances with the screenwriter of the film. I truly hope that I can be completely impartial when writing about this… but, to be honest, I’m not really sure. I enjoyed the film (more on this later), though there were some problems (more on this later, as well)… but at the end of the day, I can’t tell how much of my enjoyment was due to my rather tenuous connection to the film. The second disclosure is less important, but I believe in transparency. This was not a true game of Netflix Roulette. In actuality, the two friends mentioned above selected this film. That being said, it is on Netflix so I’m sure I would have landed on it eventually. Also, since I didn’t pick it, there is still some sense of randomness. Hopefully, those two excuses will let me sleep tonight. Truth be told, this special case didn’t really fall in any of the categories I already created, and I didn’t really feel like creating a new one for a one-off thing.

Now, on to the movie… finally. So, what is Contracted: Phase II? It’s a zombie film… technically. In reality, it is less about zombies (though, they do make occasional apperences) and more about the disease that eventually leads to zombie. As the name implies it is a direct sequel to Contracted. Do you need to see the first one? Well, I didn’t and I was able to follow the plot (what little of it there is). That being said, I think I might have enjoyed certain aspects the film a bit more if I had… I know, that’s a revelation of a statement. Let me begin with what I enjoyed about this film… and there is a lot to enjoy here. In a previous post, I remember arguing, even though it killed me a little to do so, that the zombie sub-genre is almost completely played out. There is only so much you can do… plus, when you have The Walking Dead making Romero look like a hack on a weekly basis what’s the point in even trying (no offense, George, I love you (no, really, I do)? The screenwriter (Craig Walendziak (the guy I almost know), building off of his predecessor’s work, avoids treading old ground, by focuses on the virus instead of the zombies. Here’s the point: this is not a zombie film… it is a body-horror film… straight up. If you watch it from this perspective, it is successful (mostly). It is truly an old-school gross-out film… and a lot of it works. As I mentioned above, I watched this with two other people… so, there were three people, all with there own triggers and fears, and the filmmakers were able to get us all at least once in the film (here’s a minor tasting menu of what’s in store for you: fingernail stuff, vomiting, sneezing blood, self-mutilation, eye-ball stuff (that was my trigger… ugh). This is especially impressive considering the low budget (I assume it was a low budget since the soundtrack was clearly used scraps from 1980s police procedurals). Also, quick side note, there was a twinge of black-comedy in the film that I enjoyed… it reminded me a bit of old-school Peter Jackson (see Braindead (aka Dead Alive!).

This movie is not perfect though… far from. There are a few problems. First, the quality of the acting varies… greatly. If everyone was great… that would be perfect. Hell, even if everyone was awful, it would be fun. However, when you put a solid actor and a bad actor in the same scene it’s very distracting. I don’t particularly like calling people out… especially since I have no talent and no guts (I’m the guy at a karaoke bar that never gets up to sing but claps enthusiastically at everyone who gets up there… I marvel at their bravery)… anyway, I don’t need to name names because you’ll know who I’m talking about when you see her… oops, I may have given away too much already. Now, on to the plot… here’s the thing… it just kind of rambles along. I was actually getting annoyed when the plot would start to intervene in the body horror. There is this weird sub-plot (which transitions into the main plot about halfway through) that deals with the architect of the virus (I guess). This was paper thin… however, since I didn’t see the first movie, it might be the case of having to tie up loose ends… at least I hope that’s the reason. Finally, for a 78-minute film (thank you for observing my 90-minutes or less rule for horror films) there was a weird amount of time wasted (the opening five-minute autopsy scene and recap from the first film). This weighed the film down and actually made it feel longer than its running time. Again, none of these are fatal flaws… if they were, then all low-budget horror movies would be unwatchable… just some minor hiccups. Part of me whished I had watched this movie last August. It would be interesting to see if I would have been as forgiving of the flaws when I was in the midst of the fever dream/experiment that was last summer… I’m guessing I wouldn’t have been…

So, that it. I hope you enjoyed reading. I’m feeling a bit rusty, so I apologize if I’m not up to my usual standards, but I’ll get there again. I promise… I hope…

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