Thursday, 23 January 2014

REVIEW - CONTRACTED


Contracted is a deceitful body horror film, with shifting identities and an apparent lack of logic. It reveals its true self in its final shot, whereupon it starts making sense, though the preceding first and second (and third) acts were, until this point, a more collectively befuddling affair than they needed to be. If you rearrange the film with its climactic revelation in mind, all of the pieces are present and correct, though were writer / director Eric England to have devised a conclusion more cohesive with what he appears to promise for the majority of Contracted, I doubt the issue of deception would have arisen. What matters is not how audacious England is in his creativity, but how effective he is in the application thereof. He lacks much conceptual creativity, actually, and this is a resolutely conventional film in its pure narrative and tonal content, but there are definite points of interest scattered throughout: he is surprisingly strong at guiding inter-personal relationships in the film to powerful effect, and lead character Samantha's tense bonds with her unresponsive girlfriend and her interfering mother are very keenly portrayed. He also makes a definite effort to ratchet up the retch factor, with all manner of gag-inducing effects generously employed. It's by no means subtle, though horror movies have some licence to avoid subtlety where they deem necessary, and I'd give Contracted a pass on that ground. England doesn't supply his gore with much purpose, much reason to exist, though, so these are empty eughs he's provoking from us, albeit hefty ones! Once Contracted begins, in the most abrupt and dissatisfying manner, to wrap up, the body horror angle is abandoned, unfortunately, and the film's identity makes its most pointed shift. As disappointing as it may be, it's not illogical. But what matters is not how audacious England is, but how effective he is. And, in the end, he's not very effective at all.