'Contracted: Phase II': Film Review

Courtesy of IFC Midnight
Sure to bring on an intense craving for antibiotics.

The zombie apocalypse continues in this sequel to the 2013 cult horror film.

Normally, when a man pisses blood it's a sign of nothing more life-threatening than a urinary tract infection. But not so in the world of horror movies, where it signals the beginning of — you guessed it — a zombie apocalypse.

Such a condition afflicts the hapless hero of the sequel to Eric England's 2013 horror film that nobody was actually clamoring for. With the directorial and screenwriting chores handed to Josh Forbes and Craig Walendziak, respectively, Contracted: Phase II should scare up a few undiscriminating viewers on VOD concurrent with its limited theatrical release.

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Taking up almost immediately after its predecessor left off, the story begins with social worker Riley (Matt Mercer) infected with the zombie-like disease that he caught in STD style from the first film's ill-fated Samantha (Najarra Townsend) after a one-night stand. Besides the aforementioned symptom, he also sneezes out a prodigious amount of blood and performs crude surgery on himself to remove the worm-like creatures crawling under his skin.

In perhaps the film's most realistic moment, Riley counsels a young woman similarly infected who begins violently tearing off her skin. The security guard responding to his cry for help takes one look at the bloody victim and announces, "Oh, hell no!" before fleeing the room.

The overly complicated plot revolves around Riley desperately running around Los Angeles (a city that, judging by both this and AMC's Fear the Walking Dead, seems to be ground zero for zombie apocalypses, so be warned, Angelenos) trying to find a cure for his infection. Along the way, he is pursued by a female detective (Marianna Palka) investigating his suspicious connection to a series of dead bodies, while he himself pursues the villainous if unfortunately named BJ (Morgan Peter Brown), who's apparently hatched a plot to spread the virus as a way of taking over the world.

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It's all as ridiculous as it sounds, with only the occasional attempts at dark humor providing saving graces. Genre fans, at least, should be satiated by the copious amount of gore and viscera on display, although whether they'll be hungry enough for the next installment — all too obviously set up for at the conclusion — is another matter. 

Production: BoulderLight Pictures
Cast: Matt Mercer, Marianna Palka, Morgan Peter Brown, Anna Lore, Laurel Vail, Peter Cilella
Director: Josh Forbes
Screenwriter: Craig Walendziak
Producers: Raphael Margules, JD Lifshitz
Executive producer: Nate Bolotin
Director of photography: Mike Testin
Production designer: Mike Valenzuela
Editor: Ruben Sebban
Costume designer: Alexandra Serna
Composer: Jonathan Snipes

Not rated, 78 minutes

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