Preview Review: Contracted: Phase II

There are four paths sequels tend to take. There is the planned sequel that extends the story of the first film, there's the sequel that tries to take the franchise in a different direction, there's the sequel that usually comes a decade or so after the first film and it merely pays homage to the original, and there's the sequel that just tries to put the first film on steroids.

Horror films constantly attempt the latter. There are numerous horror franchises throughout history that had a creative, thought and fear-provoking premise that really made it an interesting watch that was turned into a chaotic bloodbath in the sequel. The REC series is a good example, 28 Days Later is another. Now Contracted is becoming a victim to the trend.

Contracted was a rather clever little gem that used the zombie virus as a means to parallel STD's. The fact the film never turns into a zombie film until the final moments made it all the more interesting. It was a personal, intimate, and disgusting view of a zombie outbreak's ground zero, or more so, the story leading up to ground zero. Its decomposition effects, strong acting, and intriguing story had me more impressed than sickened by the time the credits rolled, and that's saying something!

But it couldn't be left well enough alone, so now we are getting a sequel that looks so vaguely similar to the first film. Sure, we see glimpses of the original in this trailer, but primarily shots from the last 5 minutes. Those 5 minutes were an Easter egg of sorts, revealing that this film, that wasn't a zombie film, was indeed a cinematic intro to any zombie film ever. It was brilliant. Now it's being abused to fuel another zombie bloodbath.

Now, I can appreciate a gory zombie film as much as the next guy, but I've grown jaded by the formula and need a twist or fresh element applied. The only fresh element here was the concept behind patient zero, which we already know about. From the trailer, this film looks to be a combination of Cabin Fever meets Dawn of the Dead with a little satirical World War Z, using the final minutes as a starting point. Fine, I guess. I can't say the concept doesn't work, or even that this film won't be entertaining, but it lacks that atmosphere the first film pulled off so nicely.

The first film was aware of itself, but it wasn't laughing at itself. This trailer appears to be doing just that, but its joke has already been passed around the school yard a few times and now it barely musters a chuckle. But, having said that, it seems to be using the plot as a vehicle for some great body horror elements and perhaps a spreading of the disease via sexual transmission in addition to bites. In this sense it would be carrying an interesting aspect from the first film, except, you know, on steroids.