Contracted: Phase II Review
It wasn't long ago I Preview Reviewed the trailer for the Contracted sequel. After judging the cover, it seemed evident this film was going to go the usual route of most zombie sequels and simply try to one-up the first film via more gore and chaos. After judging the pages of the piece, this prediction did not entirely come true, though it was incapable of fully escaping this fate.
This sequel was a more humble film than I expected. It was directly involved with the original in such a way that seemed purposeful. It wasn't merely gore for gore's sake using the plotline from the original, it had direction that was nearly seamless with the flow of the first film's story, particularly the ending.
However, this sequel was flawed from the beginning, as the most interesting concept from the first film was impossible to reenact in the sequel with any legitimacy or originality. The first film was interesting because of its intimate and personal experience with the patient zero of the zombie apocalypse's gradual and disgusting turn. In the sequel, we get this experience again, but it doesn't have the same effect, as it is neither surprising nor special. This is the most obvious case of "one-uppery" in the film, as the character's body horror experiences are simply shots that probably ended up on the cutting room floor from the first film.
And though I find the sequel's plot to be a decent transition, it also takes the film in a direction that I believe does a disservice to the first. There was something to the fact that in the first film the zombie apocalypse starts like the AIDS virus; sexually transmitted and accidental in the sense that the consequences were unpredictable. When they make this apocalypse a purposeful vendetta from a psychopath, it actually takes away from the first film's impact. The sequel had the opportunity to mirror the AIDS epidemic in such a way to explain how it could quickly spread unbeknownst to the public before it was too late. Instead, we got another inexplicable mad genius bent on word destruction via a zombie plague.
I give credit for not simply copying and pasting the content from the first film and adding more chaos and gore (though, I suppose in some instances it did exactly that...), but their transition, however sensible, still found a way to cheapen the original film by changing one little detail: making the epidemic purposeful rather than incidental. It changed the dynamic of everything, and in my opinion for the worse.
But, the film's effects in the body horror category were fantastic. There are some literal "seat squirming" scenes in this movie that were commendably well done. But unfortunately it wasn't enough to mask the lack of chemistry the decomposition of our protagonist had with the rest of the plot and characters. Our antagonist is bland as far as apocalyptic psychopaths go. And the acting was wince-worthy from most of the other performances, the script be damned in some cases.
Despite the criticisms above, I was pleasantly surprised. I expected absolute garbage, but it carried more value than most sequels of its caliber and genre. And for that it deserves at least some praise.
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 3/10