“Contracted:Phase II” is the immediate sequel to the 2013 horror film “Contracted”. The first film written and directed by Eric England tells a visceral account of Samantha, a young woman suffering from an unknown disease contracted after a sexual encounter. Her phase of infection can be summarized as thanatomorphose. “Contracted” offered a slow yet intriguing suspense while investing little in gore. However brief the blood and gore appeared on screen it complimented the overall story line.
Unfortunately, Eric England wasn’t part of the creative process for “Contracted: Phase II” and his absence was clearly evident. The second chapter of what’s to be an indie level franchise takes the original “Contracted” concept to a sub-par level. At the helm of “Contracted: Phase II” is director Josh Forbes and writer Craig Walendziak. What they’ve set out to create pales in comparison to the subtlety of horror delivered in the 2013 version. In fact Eric England has stated his disapproval for the sequel. Eric England offered his opinion to “Contracted: Phase 2:” in a previously conducted interview with addictedtohorrormovies.com:
“..the reason the film doesn’t work for me is because it doesn’t feel like anyone had a concrete vision for what it needed to be, like the first.”
Writer Craig Walendziak was on hand for a Q& A session immediately preceding the screening of “Contracted: Phase II” at the IFC Center in NYC. Walendziak responded to a question concerning England’s disapproval of the sequel. Walendziak states:
..this is his baby..the first one is his baby..that was your first film you love it and then when the producers don’t’ bring you back to write the second one or direct the second one it’s going to sting a little bit..but you know it’s a business you know and they say it’s a business if it’s not profitable you can’t make movies, if you’re not raising your own money to make the movie you can’t make the movie.
Watching “Contracted: Phase 2” you’d begin to share the similar sentiment by Eric England. The sequel offers nothing in originality and basically comes off as another typical zombie, quite the opposite of the original concept. The sequel begins immediately after the events from “Contracted” where we find the fully infected and undead protagonist, Samantha slumped over the wheel of her automobile. Samantha’s mother pleas in the distance awakening Samantha from her state of unconsciousness. Samantha, now a walking corpse is a shell of her former self. With astonishing reflexes, Samantha pounces on her nearby mother. A fatal shot to Samantha’s head brings the monstrous attack to a vicious end. From the opening sequence it is immediately clear what the production team intended to do, propel gratuitous horror before story and structure.
These are many instances and blatant errors that make “Contracted Phase II” and insult to our viewing experience. The film lacks of maturity and Writer Craig Walendziak admits to the comical nature of the movie with the following comment.
“I didn’t want to remake the first movie If you want to see “Contracted” go back and watch Eric’s movie cause you know for him it’s perfect..I just wanted to take something you know a little more am not going to say a little more fun cause I’m not discouraging his film but just a little more goofy, wacky, play with things that I really liked from the first one.”
In one scene, we find the film’s protagonist, Riley (who also happens to be a predecessor from the first film) sitting at the doctor’s office, riddled with concerned. The script is written well here, as it provides a recap of events that led him there. The viewer is bounced back in time with a series of flashbacks to Riley’s sexual meet with a then infected Samantha. The recollections are gory and serves as a lure to reel the audience into the story line. The execution of this scene helps introduce those unfamiliar with the overall plot. However, the lack of common sense makes the attempt of a worthy production seem minuscule. For instance, Riley asks the doctor to test him for everything, because he himself doesn’t know what he may be infected with. However, once the doctor leaves the room Riley is in discomfort, he soon realizes he has a large wound across his back. To further exaggerate this scenario, this visual nonsense, a fragment of Samantha’s nail is embedded into the scar tissue.
As the movie progresses the story begins to fall apart. Case in point, a doctor’s appointment, self inflicted surgery, and interrogation left Riley exhausted. Consciousness prevails as Riley settles in his bedroom, compelling him to share his much kept piece of information. In the proceeding scene, a licence plate number is called in over the police scanner while serial rapist/walking biohazard, BJ engages in his usual act of violence, pouncing on his next victim with a zombie-pathogen laced hypodermic needle. The flow of the sequence of events was well written yet the lack of common sense rears it ugly head. Time is measured in the movie with the a numbered day superimposed on screen, Riley shares his information the evening of “Day 4”. On the evening of “Day 5” a full twelve hours later Detective Young, decides to run the licence plate number through the police database. If the determined sleuth wanted to capture her suspect wouldn’t she had investigated the license plate number upon receiving it, what did she wait a full twelve hours later to do so?
Continuity is greatly ignored perhaps due to influence from the writer, producers or a combination of both. Many in the audience took notice of the lack of continuity in the movie. One movie-goer noted how the wound on Riley’s back kept changing from his right to his left and back again. Writer Craig Walendziak under laughter replies:
“I didn’t notice..thank you for noticing…put it on IMDB, I wish I had a better answer.”
Kage Einjeru of Decay Magazine asked Writer Craig Walendziak:
The continuity of the film is seriously lacking who’s decision was it to focus on the gore to help build the film?
“Again I’ve seen this alot when we go into editing room…this is probably why the gore ending up in the film…when you write a script well when I write a script I should say, I write it almost too deep, I have a certain momentum that pacing on it all time, sometimes when you film that it doesn’t come out perfectly so then you cobble things together and in cobble I’m not trying to be a negative term but piece things together so that they actually work. So the gore set pieces are..we’re trying to pace them out through the film so we kept a little bit of the momentum uh yea so you adjust on the fly. So I say in the screenplay when you going to execute it its a little more difficult. Thank you for noticing. ”
If great practical effects is what you yearn for “Contracted: Phase 2” is a great movie to watch. The gore was phenomenal and well executed, acclaim should be given to the many talents who worked in that department. On the other hand, if you’re expecting a story rich movie you’ll be sadly disappointed. While the on screen performances were good the character development and over all plot made the movie feel weak. This is a terrible attempt at a sequel and hopefully a third entry would place focus on what is important, the characters and story line.