Director – Josh Forbes, Screenplay – Craig Walendziak, Producers – J.D. Lifshitz & Raphael Margules, Photography – Mike Testin, Music – Jonathan Snipes, Special Effects Supervisor – Josh Hakian, Makeup Effects – Mayera Abeita, Production Design – Mike Valenzuela. Production Company – Boulderlight Pictures
Matt Mercer (Riley McCormick), Marianna Palka (Crystal Young), Anna Lore (Harper), Laurel Vail (Brenda), Peter Cilella (James), Suzanne Voss (Margie), Morgan Peter Brown (BJ), John Ennis (Special Agent Dalton), Najarra Townsend (Samantha England), Charley Koontz (Zain), Richard Riehle (Deuce Gelman)
In the aftermath of Samantha England’s shooting by police, her friend Riley McCormick is questioned and realises that he too is infected. Authorities all across L.A. are trying to quarantine the infection as it spreads. Riley realises that BJ, the man he saw have sex with and infect Samantha, is coming after him. As the infection starts to claim him, Riley decides that his only recourse is to hunt down and kill BJ.
Contracted (2013) was a horror film that gained a modest sleeper reputation. All of its effect came in watching heroine Najarra Townsend infected with a mysterious condition and becoming progressively more hideously mutated, while being driven to devour blood.
Contracted: Phase II disappointingly ends up as a sequel that merely coasts by on the expectation of an audience’s familiarity with the original. It is a film so subpar that it almost certainly would not even have been regarded as worth releasing did it not have the connection of the first film. As a sequel, it misses all of the effectiveness of the original by enough room for an aircraft carrier to conduct training manoeuvres. Matt Mercer, who was a supporting character in the first film, becomes the lead here and is an acceptable replacement for Najarra Townsend. However, it is over half the film before he turns up with the trademark one red eye. (Even then, continuity is highly uneven – in some scenes, we see him and others with the red or milky white eyes and then in the very next scene their eyes are clear). The scenes leading up to his breaking out are highly uneventful. Certainly, once we get to the heart of the action, the film provides copious meltdowns, blood vomitings and attacks but none of this emerges as memorable or with even half the effect they did in the original. The silliest of these is a scene during the end credits with an infected pregnant woman where we fade out just as the camera pans down to show her stomach moving.
The other major problem is that Contracted: Phase II remains bitsy and unfocused in its script. The story this time comes with an interesting new angle where the infected lead sets out on a mission of personal vengeance to eliminate BJ, the shadowy figure from the first film, who is infecting everybody and appears to be stalking him. This could have worked well but the obsessive trail is only half-hearted – there seems no real reason why BJ is targeting Matt Mercer in a very personal way, for instance. And then just past the one-hour point – the film has a runtime of 80 minutes but almost ten of these are credits – we reach a bizarrely left field ending where BJ enters the hospital to find Matt Mercer where for no apparent reason he decides to strap on a vest of explosives and become a suicide bomber before a climactic shootout with police that all happens around a nurse’s station. Perhaps one of the most disappointing sequels I can remember having seen in the last while.