Monday, January 4, 2016

CONTRACTED: PHASE 2 (2015) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight 

Region Code: A
Duration: 78 Minutes
Rating: Unrated 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Josh Forbes
Cast: Najarra Townsend, Marianna Palka, Matt Mercer, Anna Lore, John Ennis, Laurel Vail, Morgan Peter Brown, Peter Cilella, Richard Riehle, Suzanne Voss

Contracted: Phase 2 picks up at the very moment that Contracted (2013) left off two years ago with the infected Samantha (Najarra Townsend) taking a frightful bite out her own mother's neck before being gunned down by police. Now the focus shifts to her to her hanger-on friend Riley (Matt Mercer, Contracted) who you might remember slipped her the white worm only to find she was full of worms already, in a spectacularly horrendous moment. The difference this time around is that Riley actually knows what might be happening to him as opposed to Samantha, who was unknowing infected in the last movie by BJ (Morgan Peter Brown, Absentia), who again appears this time around as the diabolic patient zero who is helping to spread some apocalyptic plague. 

At the top of the movie we find Riley at the doctor's office, the doctor happens to be the husband of his sister, the doc is someone he can trust, and who it runs out fucks over everyone by not reporting his brother-in-laws condition to the proper authorities. This is something that will come back to haunt him later on. Anyway, Riley's initial blood tests come back clean, which is a relief at first, but true relief is in short supply in Contracted: Phase 2.

Despite his initial clean bill of health from the doc it does turn out that Riley is infected. despite his best intentions his actions threaten both family and loved ones, be it through intimacy and through casual contact he becomes one of the horsemen of the apocalypse in his own sort of way. As a sequel this one doesn't really push the story forward a whole heck of a lot, it does feel like a middle movie, and judging by the stingers at the end of this one we can probably expect a sequel in the next year or two, which I wouldn't mind.

What it does push forward only slightly is the recognition by the public health authorities that a plague is beginning to spread and it needs to be contained. To that end we have Detective Crystal Young (Marianna Palka) interviewing Matt about what happened to Samantha. He denies having any sexual contact with her, and the Detective is also on the trail of doomsday plaguer BJ, which gives certain parts of the movie a police procedural feel, and to a certain degree a medical drama. At the heart of the story though we just have more body-horror, and to that end they do a pretty great job.  Following the same progression as Samantha we have Riley noticing sores on his body, beginning on his back where Samantha viciously clawed him in the last film. At one point he pulls one of her infected fingernails out of the wound, and if the thought of that tests the strength of your stomach, you might not want to watch this movie, because that is only the beginning of the body-horror, it gets much ickier after that.

The first movie was a slow-burning character study of Samantha as she rotted from the inside out, the sequel is less concerned with the character study and is more concerned with making you uncomfortable. There's nothing quite on the level of seeing maggots fall from Samantha's vagina, but there are copious amounts of sick stuff, including eye trauma, the mandatory pissing of blood, and a scene that felt like a nod to Peter Jackson's Dead Alive wherein Riley inadvertently drips blood into the cheese dip at a party, which his pregnant sister consumes soon afterward, and that comes with the expected payoff

Audio/Video: Scream Factory presents Contracted: Phase 2 is 1080p HD widescreen (2.35:1) and the image looks solid as you would expect of a brand new digital image, the blacks are deep and colors are appropriately vivid. The icky body horror effects are very effective in HD with some nice crisp fine detail. The English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround audio is solid, dialogue and score come through crisp and clean, with some decent use of the discreet surrounds, but is mostly relegated to score, which is an unfortunately anemic electronic score. The disc is nearly barebobnes with only a small selection of trailers, bereft of interviews or a commentary. We do get a sleeve of reversible artwork with a slight variation, and a standard definition DVD featuring the movie and mirroring the slim extras. 

Special Features: 
- Theatrical Trailer (1 Mins) 
- Extended Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) 
- IFC Midnight Trailers 

What I would hope for with any sequel would be a slightly larger scope of the growing infection. The first movie was thoughtful and gross, this one was more visceral and disgusting, and while I am doubtful we will be seeing a large scale sequel. I do hope they build upon the movies in a way that is natural but also progresses the story without turning into something different altogether. Writer Craig Walendziak and director Josh Forbes did a decent job following up Eric England's movie, staying true to the vision he set-up, with loads of cringe worthy body horror and slightly progressing the story. Fans of the first movie will most likely enjoy the sequel, here's hoping that the third entry expands on it. 3/5