The Horror Honeys: Contracted and Confused

Contracted and Confused

A Zombie Honey Confounded Review by Bella

“A young woman develops horrifying symptoms after she indulges in a one-night stand with a random stranger.” … Uhm...

I’m not even sure where to begin with Contracted.

Do I start with the opening and its implied corpse fucking? The date rape? The date rape that wasn’t? Or how about the overt slut-shaming? What about the incessant victim complex? Or the strong warnings of victim blaming? How about the male privilege? Or the friend-zoning factor?

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself with all of these juxtapositions. So I’ll start here: Technically speaking, Contracted is a good movie; solid in its cinematography, filmmaking, and even acting. From a purely technical standard, I can’t complain too much. The script leaves a little bit to be desired, but when you take on the sole responsibility of Writer/Director/Producer something is bound to suffer, yeah?
She's smoking, so you know she's a "bad girl".
And how about that body horror? Sure, we’ve seen most of it all before, but what’s great about body horror is that it’s always horrible. Prying off dead fingernails, losing hair, bleeding eyes, rotting teeth - that’s the shit that will always make you a bit squinty. Beyond that, vagina maggots are disturbing to everyone. Contracted does a really great job at attempting to focus your attention on the character study of Samantha (our rotting from the inside zombie-to-be) all the while making sure you can hardly focus on anything more than the death bugs falling from between her legs. Gross. And effective.

Can't use those to scratch your attacker's eyes out.
So all of that is good enough. But let me backtrack a bit. Contracted is confused - at least from a movie message point of view.

  • Contracted wants to be a character study, but no one cares about the character. Samantha is unlikeable which is a death nod to the audience. We don’t really care about her or her disease, so what is the point? This isn’t a straight-forward zombie movie- it’s almost a “becoming a zombie” movie, except you don’t get to the zombie bit until the very end.
  • It seems to simultaneously slut-shame and probe at the problem of victim blaming. Samantha has a one-night stand and contracts a disease because of her “unprotected promiscuity” (there is literally a scene where her doctor asks her multiple times, explicitly, about unprotected sex) - “bad Samantha”. And yet, Samantha also cannot get the support and help she needs because her one-night stand was actually rape.
  • Let’s talk about that “one-night stand” wherein she may- or may not- have been drugged and coaxed into the back of a car for a quick romp. The rape itself is glossed over, because while she IS protesting, she’s not protesting much and it’s through moans of pleasure. (That’s still rape, FYI).
  • AND… If the above wasn’t problematic enough for you the disease that Samantha contracts is supposed to rot her body from the inside out; however, the very clear confusion and disdain regarding women here causes her to begin rotting from her VAGINA. Why? Is it because she was a lesbian?
  • Finally, Contracted wallows a bit in its own friend-zone rhetoric. The good guy, who relentlessly stalks the girl, doesn’t get the girl- at least not until she needs him and then when she has him she gets maggots on his dick. What the hell?!

It's okay, what's a little maggot between your legs?
I’m really at a loss to understand what Contracted is trying to do with its message. No - I know not every movie has to have a message, but this movie seems just too conflicted to not have one. Is it trying to make a grand statement about the societal issues regarding rape and victim blaming and the consequences therein? Is it a think piece on the uselessness of women as the root of all evil?

Someone help me understand.

Ultimately, I didn’t hate the look and feel of Contracted - like I said, technically, it’s a solid movie. But there is something underlying there that rubbed me the wrong way, and if you know me at all, you know that if I’m pointing it out it’s gotta be bad.

I’ll be following this up with Contracted: Phase II… perhaps against my better judgement.

Zombie Honey Rating: That’s not how maggots or vaginas work.

Contracted is available via Netflix Streaming, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, & blu-ray/DVD