ContractedTitle: Contracted (2013)
Director: Eric England
Runtime: 84 minutes

A few days ago Ashe watched and reviewed Contracted: Phase 2. His final conclusion was essentially that it was a strong follow-up, but the first film was better. That was enough inspiration to get me to finally sit down and watch the original, which I’d heard a lot of good things about since its release. I’ll say right away that I wasn’t disappointed with Contracted at all. It is a gross film, but not nearly as bad as one might expect. Instead, the focus is on the story of the lead character, Samantha, and her descent into madness.

Samantha goes out to a party one night, and though she wants nothing more than her girlfriend to join her after work, she instead gets date raped by a random guy at the party. The next morning, she starts feeling sick, with cramps that take her to the ground in pain, and a rash. Day two sees her visit a doctor, who says she likely has a sexually transmitted infection and a head cold, but has no real explanation for the excessive bleeding she’s going through. As the day goes on, things go from bad to worse, and eventually Samantha is a shell of the beautiful girl we met at the beginning of the film.

The whole of Contracted feels very inevitable. It’s easy to gather that there won’t be any happy endings to be found with this one. Even though it feels inevitable, it is never predictable, and threw me for a loop once I realized exactly what I was watching. I won’t say what that is because it would be a spoiler, so I would definitely recommend reading as little about the film as possible before you sit down to watch it.

Najarra Townsend as Samantha is great. She has the luxury of playing a character that not only goes through a physical change from the start to the finish, but an emotional one as well. This is great material she has to work with, and she handles it incredibly well. The supporting cast around her is excellent too, from her girlfriend Nikki to her best friend Alice, and her mother to the guy that is infatuated with her, Riley. All deliver believable performances.

Contracted has some really disgusting moments, but I liked that writer/director Eric England decided that the more important aspect of this story was Samantha’s devolution. That said, I would’ve loved to have learned more about her past. It is clearly influencing her present relationships, specifically with her girlfriend and her mother, who clearly doesn’t approve of her lesbian daughter’s lifestyle. Though we get a good amount of character development, it would have been great to learn even more about what came before.

It’s easy to recommend Contracted, but it isn’t for audiences with weak stomachs. There are a lot of moments where the most disgusting aspects are just implied, but it has its fair share of on-screen gross outs as well. The main story is really about Samantha, and how she handles this non-diagnosable sickness, though, and Contracted is better off for it. You can find Contracted, and its sequel, on Netflix Instant Queue, and you should definitely seek it out.