CONTRACTED PHASE 1 (REVIEW)
Dir. Eric England
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
The horror genre is flooded with the undead, you'd even call it the end of days for the genre itself with so much rotting flesh invading our screens. Whether it's the endless run of 'The Walking Dead' or the rom-zom-com saga's that have followed Romero's poster trilogy, there is an ever-growing love for the undead that keeps the undead living. Almost as much imagination as gone into how the virus is contracted as to how the situation is controlled and whether it be via chemical waste bins, ancient burial grounds or nuclear holocausts, there is always a new take on events.
And here comes CONTRACTED PHASE 1, where the root cause of the virus is through an STD but it's not the cause but the evolution that makes 'Contracted' stand on its own merits.
Najarra Townsend stars as Samantha, a young teen who after attending a house party contracts a virus that slowly eats away at her skin and morality. Balancing her life with her lover (Katie Stegeman) and bashfully southern mother (Caroline Williams) along with a friend in Alice (Alice Macdonald) who wants more than just Sam's friendship, her life needs a little less complication and a little more action. Add into the mix a complicated one night stand who won't leave Sam's side and what you have here is a volcano awaiting to erupt.
As the virus slowly takes over Sam becomes more and more debilitated and her outgoing personality is soon diminished. Yet it is this transformation that is so intriguing to watch. Brilliantly played out by Townsend who plays the frail lead to perfection. As you witness this character break down, it's hard not to feel for her as her life flits between her friends and mother and a conclusion that is emotionally struggling rather than the fast paced revolt that many zombie films carry.
Much like 2014 smash STARRY EYES, there may be some truth in Samantha's struggle that feels like an inside reality to those living in the darker side of LA but for the rest of us, this struggle is as painful to watch unfold. The subtle transformation makes the film more believable with each day revealing a new defect to Sam's once beautiful skin making the journey a more grounded one. Yet if it's something a little more disgusting that most zombie fans scream for, 'Contracted' is not without its fair share of revolting nature that tidily hands it over to phase 2.
As far as drama's go, Eric England has mastered the craft on his debut feature and put's this amongst other great indie movies such as EXCISION and TEETH, CONTRACTED PHASE 1 is a nail biting zombie drama that will be sure to keep your attention, even if it is the last thing you contract. Townsend's powerhouse performance along with England's infectious script make this one of this years must own movies.