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Eric England
Najarra Townsend, Caroline Williams, Alice Macdonald
Writing Credits:
Eric England

After being drugged and raped at a party, a young woman contracts what she thinks is an STD but it's actually something much worse.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 84 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 3/18/2014

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Eric England, Editor Josh Ethier, Cinematographer Mike Testin and Composer Kevin Riepl
• Commentary with Writer/Director Eric England and Actors Najarra Townsend and Matt Mercer
• “The Making of Contracted” Featurette
• “Najarra Townsend Audition”
• “Animated Pitch”
• “Behind the Scenes Promo”
• Trailer and Previews


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-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Contracted (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 31, 2021)

For a dark take on the “infection horror” genre, we go to 2013’s Contracted. Samantha (Najarra Townsend) runs into relationship issues with her girlfriend Nikki (Katie Stegeman) and drowns her sorrows in booze at a party.

There a drunken Samantha meets a mystery man named BJ (Simon Barrett) and has a quickie with him in a car. This action comes with unforeseen repercussions, as Samantha immediately feels ill, and she initially chalks this up to an extended hangover.

However, it soon becomes clear that something more insidious affects her as Samantha experiences bizarre side effects like unexplained bleeding and loud noises. We follow Samantha’s journey as she finds herself saddled with a severe illness that appears to be more than just a common STD.

Every so often I get a DVD for a movie that comes with bonus features to show what happened prior to the story told in the main film. Contracted feels that way to me, as it comes across like a prequel to another tale.

That sounds like a criticism of Contracted, and I guess it is, in a way. However, those comments mostly cast aspersions on the movie’s third act, as that’s when it loses its way. For its first hour or so, Contracted works pretty well.

To say the least, Contracted presents a creepy experience. As Samantha slowly gets sicker, we finds ourselves involved in her circumstances and put off by the unpleasant circumstances that affect her.

The movie avoids too much gross out material and brings us in via its ability to get us to connect to the character. Samantha comes across like enough of an “ordinary person” that we can place ourselves in her circumstances.

Samantha’s descent into misery gets an assist from terrific makeup effects. Townsend is a completely gorgeous woman, but the movie turns her into an unappealing wreck by its end.

It does this in a gradual, believable and subtle manner. Samantha becomes unattractive in a slow way that makes her transformation more believable – and more off-putting.

Unfortunately, this all goes off the rails as the movie hits its third act. Contracted turns into much more of a traditional horror story and it loses the internal logic it built along the way. I get the impression the filmmakers want desperately to connect it to the “sequel-bait” finale and do whatever they must to get it there, even when these efforts don’t make much sense.

The film’s score also acts as a liability. Contracted works best when it takes a subtle approach, and the music makes that more difficult, as it tends to telegraph emotions too much. I think a “less is more” track would’ve worked better, as the score occasionally distracts us from the story and characters.

Despite these criticisms, I find a lot to like about Contracted, as it creates a creepy, involving thriller – for an hour or so. The problems in the final act mean that it ends up as a disappointment, but I still think it delivers some strong positives.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

Contracted appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Given the limitations of SD-DVD, the movie looked pretty good.

Overall definition seemed positive. As expected, wider shots came across as a bit soft and tentative, but most of the movie showed nice delineation.

I witnessed no issued with shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained minor. Print flaws were absent.

Like virtually all modern horror movies, Contracted opted for a stylized palette. It tended toward a low-key, semi-desaturated vibe that could be somewhat sickly. That fit the material, as the colors weren’t impressive, but they were decent for the movie.

Blacks seemed acceptably dark, while shadows showed fairly positive clarity. Nothing here impressed but the image was fine.

Similar thoughts greeted the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. It went for a fairly atmospheric air, as the mix gave us logical accompaniment for the creepy visuals.

This meant music popped up around the room and became somewhat dominant while effects remained mostly in the environmental realm. Scenes in public – like at restaurants or parties – added a little involvement but the track usually focused on ambience.

Audio quality was mostly good. Due to occasionally dodgy looping, dialogue could feel a little canned, but the lines were easily intelligible most of the time.

Music showed nice range and impact, while the effects were reasonably accurate. This became an acceptable mix for an atmospheric horror movie.

The package includes two separate audio commentaries. The first features director Eric England, editor Josh Ethier, cinematographer Mike Testin and composer Kevin Riepl.

All four sit together for a running, screen-specific look at the subjects we expect based on the participants, so we hear about editing, camerawork, and music as well as some notes related to cast and performances, sets and locations, effects and related subjects.

Billed as a “technical commentary”, this piece does stick with nuts and bolts most of the time. Happily, it keeps a peppy tone and doesn’t become dry or dull. The track examines the movie’s creation in an engaging manner.

For the second commentary, we find director Eric England and actors Najarra Townsend and Matt Mercer. All three sit together for a discussion of story/characters, cast and performances, and a few other filmmaking topics.

While not as informative as the technical track, this one still goes down easy. It could provide a bit more meat about the film’s shoot – especially since England’s promised “director’s commentary” doesn’t pop up on the DVD – but it manages to deliver a positive set of details. Though this never turns into a great track, it keeps us with it.

Next comes a featurette called The Making of Contracted. In this 16-minute, 47-second piece, we hear from England, Townsend, makeup effects Mayera Abeita. and actors Katie Stegeman and Caroline Williams.

The show looks at the movie’s origins and development, casting and crew, locations and shooting on a low budget, stylistic choices and various aspects of the shoot. England dominates this piece and makes it almost a mini-commentary. We get a good array of notes along the way.

A Najarra Townsend Audition lasts seven minutes, 11 seconds. As expected, it shows the actor as she tries out for her part. I like this kind of extra and think it’s fun to see Townsend’s audition.

Something unusual arrives with the two-minute, 16-second Animated Pitch. Created as a quirky way to pitch the movie to potential investors, it uses a 1950s PSA format to introduce the film’s concepts. It becomes a clever way to sell the project.

A Behind the Scenes Promo goes for one minute, 38 seconds. It shows England, Townsend, Williams, Stegeman, Mercer, actor Dave Holmes, Ruben Pla and Celia Finkelstein as they praise the movie. It’s completely forgettable.

The disc opens with ads for Haunter, +1, Dark Touch and Trap for Cinderella. We also find the trailer for Contracted.

As a virus-based horror tale, Contracted gains some added creepiness in the age of COVID, and the movie comes with other positives as well. It suffers from too many issues to develop into a clear winner, but it does more right than wrong. The DVD offers generally positive picture and audio along with a nice selection of bonus materials. Though inconsistent, the movie creates a moderately intriguing tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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