The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.
I first watched Contracted back in 2014 when it hit Netflix. While definitely lower budget, they were smart with it and gave us a kind of Patient Zero version of the start of a zombie epidemic as the poor lead character begins to rot, but is still very much alive (in a sense). I actually really enjoyed the first film, and they managed to be rather gross with it. So when I saw there was a direct follow-up sequel, I had to check it out.
Story & Script
Contracted: Phase 2 being a direct follow-up to the first would make it a hard candidate for keeping the same lead, so instead we’re off following the unfortunate Riley, who was the last person to have sex with Samantha from the first film, and he’s definitely picked up what she had. Where the first film really focused on Samantha and her transformation, the sequel has a subplot that doesn’t necessarily work all that well as it tries to explain where the contagion came form in the first place and gives us a crazed person infecting people with this on purpose. The film can’t really discard this because it all ties into what goes down in the third act, but it overall affects the flow of the film, and doesn’t really add much to it. That being said, it’s not necessarily bad, just split in what it’s trying to accomplish and doesn’t necessarily manage it completely.
The acting is solid overall with only a few performances, mainly from the villain, that really feel lacking. I feel bad for Riley, who’s kind of a likeable jerk who doesn’t really know what’s going on at first. The one who sold her scene the best was Anna Lore as Harper, who ends up infected by Riley. There’s a major scene with her and Riley that both grossed me out, and made me feel so sympathetic for what her character was going through. The two weaker actors in this are BJ, played by Morgan Peter Brown, who basically has to be menacing and spout crazy talk through his scenes, but never comes off as all that frightening or capable of doing what he’s doing. The other is Marianna Palka as Detective Young. Both Brown and Palka suffer in their performances from a really underdeveloped side plot, and some odd direction choices.
I liked a lot of the scenes in this that didn’t inovlve the subplot. There are some great effects shots and acting in a bunch of those scenes that really sell what’s going on. That being said, the police/carrier subplot through all of this is weak. Even the ending, which felt satisfying for the most part, has some odd choices for the characters to be going through. I did like the look and feel of it, but it just needed a little more care to make this one as good as the first. Contracted: Phase 2 is lacking that.
I did pick this one out thinking it would be on par with the sheer gross out factor of the first, and in that respect, I was more than satisfied. Every time the characters would go to the mirror to inspect the carnage being wrought on them by the disease, I cringed. Riley’s taking it a step further to try and remove some unwanted insects made me wince. I actually looked away a few times. Then later, with Harper, I wanted to crawl into a little ball. The body horror is so well done in that regard.
I’d actually love to watch this back to back with the first one as it’s been almost a year and a half since I watched the first one. The body horror alone is worth a rewatch, even to sit through the unevenness that is that police subplot trying to make this into more than it should be.
While not as good as the first film, Contracted: Phase 2 is at least a decent enough sequel that it’s worth a look if you enjoyed the first film. If you like body horror, you’ll love the effects work in this. While parts of the film are a bit on the weak side, I enjoyed it overall. It just needed a little more work on the side plot to make it work better.
Born the same year as Star Wars, it seems Ashe was destined to be into films with big impacts, explosions, and laser swords. With a love for sci-fi and horror, Ashe has a thing for games of both the tabletop and video variety. He is living a charmed, married life of sixteen years, along with several cats, a dog, and a bearded dragon. Ashe currently writes for Diehard Gamefan, covering video and tabletop games since 2008. Starting with Cinefessions just a few years ago, he has decided to tackle one of his original passions: film.