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Contracted: Phase II

Contracted: Phase II (2015)

Contracted: Phase II is a rather unnecessary sequel to the zombie/body-horror indie Contracted from 2013. That film, which followed a young woman named Samantha after she was sexually assaulted at a party and contracted an STD which had unspeakable effects on her body. Phase II picks up right where that film ended and continues following the ramifications of that infection.

The problem with Contracted: Phase II is that it's completely unnecessary. Part of the "charm" (if that word can be used) of Contracted was that it was a zombie film from a different perspective. Most zombie films begin at the point where the outbreak makes its public debut and hell has already begun to break loose. Contracted showed us the lead-up to that moment, how such an epidemic would begin, and does so at a personal level. Now, that film wasn't anything to write home about. It had its share of problems, but as an experiment it was worthwhile. It was certainly much better than its sequel.

Contracted: Phase II follows Riley (Matt Mercer) from the first film, who came into contact with Samantha. The film is about his descent into a similar situation. This film, however, doesn't put quite the focus into the body-horror that the original did, even though there is still quite a bit of it. That's probably a wise move, but what they do with the additional time isn't worthwhile at all.

The other part of the film focuses on the police investigation as they rush to try to stop BJ, the man who began it all in the original film, from further spreading the virus. This investigation is headed up by Detective Young (Marianna Palka). Palka tries giving her character an accent in the film and it completely destroys the character. The accent is all over the place, causing her character to be an unnecessary distraction every time she is on screen. The investigation scenes really don't add much to the narrative other than introducing the fact that BJ is still out there and someone that needs to be stopped.

The first film managed to get around its shortcomings because of a solid central performance, making you care about Samantha as she went through a horrific transformation, regardless of how ridiculous everything around her seemed to be. That's not the case here, as the acting is pretty much subpar across the board. The film only clocks in at about an hour and twenty minutes, yet it feels overly long. Whatever urge there may be for a Contracted: Phase III, I hope they resist it. The first was decent enough, but the laws of diminishing returns suggests that there is absolutely nowhere else left to go with this franchise that we couldn't get in another other zombie movie or franchise.