Written by: Matt Molgaard
Eric England has now officially solidified himself as a next gen standout. This dude’s evolution is ridiculous. He’s turning out stronger films with each production and he’s got the kind of work ethic a hardcore fan can and will deeply respect. It started with the backwoods slasher, Madison County, grew into the taut psychological thriller, Roadside and has now evolved into the truly grotesque but completely mystifying Contracted. This guy can’t be stopped, and he’s got a great crew around him aiding in the success of these pictures.
Contracted features a handful of regular England collaborators. Matt Mercer, Katie Stegeman and Alice Macdonald (who served as a production assistant on Roadside) are all on board, and they each turn in stellar, authentic performances. But the real shiner in this unbelievably bleak pic is Najarra Townsend who takes on the lead role of Samantha, the least fortunate human being on planet earth. This is a challenging role, as it calls for Townsend to essentially function in overdrive the entire picture. There just aren’t many varying speeds for her character; it’s pedal to the metal right from the jump, and that’s got to be the kind of task that weighs heavily on a performer. But Najarra not only holds it all together, she thoroughly impresses on a constant basis.
Sam pops up at a party that a friend is hosting. Her lover, Nikki, isn’t making an appearance because their relationship is on the fritz. So, what’s a rejected girl to do? Get drunk as hell, naturally. Unfortunately, she also gets slipped a little something that steals away her faculties, and before she knows it, she’s being raped by a mysterious man known only as BJ. Not only does BJ rape the vulnerable Sam, he leaves behind something that’s going to change her life forever… not that she’s got much time left. Within 72 hours a few sexually transmitted disease symptoms transmute into something significantly more dangerous. Something downright fatal.
I’d like to spoil the finale of this pic for you right here and now. I really, really would. It’s brilliant, and, despite our lead’s downward spiral in the health department, still somewhat unforeseen. But it’s stellar, and it’s nauseating, and it’s really, really fucking memorable.
Very well shot, very well performed, no one misses a mark here. Subtle gore (I’m sorry but anything menstrual related in a horror film sends me over the edge) somehow turns the stomach unlike some of the most graphic material you’ve ever seen, and the organic essence of the characters is the kind of thing that a true film buff craves. Contracted is – by a sizable margin – Eric England’s biggest film. It’s earned great distribution, a ton of publicity and generally positive acclaim from industry pundits. It’s also one of the best films I’ve seen in 2014.
Mad respect, personally, goes out to Eric England and Matt Mercer, two guys who have earned my adoration and then some. I don’t know Eric, but Matt and I are on quite friendly terms. He’s a really down-to-earth guy with an awesome sense of humor who happens to remind me a lot of some of my close hometown buddies. I’ll be supporting this dude – as well as Eric – for the long haul. Truly great talents who have a profoundly bright future in this business.
By the way, Eric, when you get around to reading this – I’m still building my campaign to be involved in an upcoming film. I’ve got writing chops son! I work my ass off and I’m dedicated to horror like few others. Did I mention I’m sexy as hell? You know, in case you need to toss me in the middle of a love scene? Eh? Eh?
Watch the flick guys. It’s grisly, haunting and genuinely innovative.