Much of Contracted is tight close-ups of its insecure protagonist, poring over her decaying physical state in the days following her being raped by a creepy stranger at a party. Eric England piles on a number of David Cronenberg steals, from fingernails and teeth falling out to squirm-inducing amounts of blood in vomit and urine, which he contrasts with star Najarra Townsend’s demure appearance to suggest tainted beauty (especially when she applies makeup to cover up her decay). He even ties Samantha’s (Townsend) downward spiral into necrosis with other facets of her life: her romance with snotty Nikki, the disapproval of her mother, and the unwanted advances of a dweeby Nice Guy, slob pothead (with a passing similarity to Jorge Garcia), and party-hard best friend Alice. None of this dysfunction is recognizably human, though. Upon discovering Samantha was raped, Alice informs Nikki instead that Samantha cheated on her–a ludicrously garbled plot point mistaking rape for promiscuity (except Nikki also admits to cheating while giving a stern breakup speech. “Incompetent” doesn’t begin to describe this script). The rapist himself is treated like an incidental player, only ever shown in IFC-standard soft focus as he goes from fingering a corpse to stalking and drugging Samantha, before disappearing entirely. Half-assed mentions of a manhunt offer hints of a larger, more sinister context, but England is more interested in slut-shaming Samantha by turning her into a sex-crazed slasher zombie. His sole success is making a walking corpse the least repulsive element of a walking corpse movie.


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