Film

Horror Sequel ‘Contracted: Phase II’ Can’t Commit to the Original’s Grim Vision

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Contracted: Phase II begins at the exact moment 2013’s Contracted ended. Samantha (Najarra Townsend), a Los Angeles waitress who contracted a virulent STD (via rape) that turned her into a pus-covered zombie, is about to take a bite out of her mother.

As Phase II opens, Samantha meets a quick, violent end, leaving her not-quite-boyfriend, Riley (Matt Mercer), who slept with her once, to track down B.J. (Morgan Peter Brown), the rapist/patient zero who infected Samantha, and, by extension, Riley, who’s starting to see worms wiggling under his own skin.

Eric England, who wrote and directed the grimly intense Contracted, has passed the reins to screenwriter Craig Walendziak and director Josh Forbes, newcomers who have expanded the story’s scope, to mixed results. The virus is spreading, but the filmmakers don’t appear fully committed to the idea of a zombie apocalypse, so no sense of dread (or suspense) ever takes hold. When B.J. begins tape-recording maniac monologues in his bone-filled basement lair, the film begins to feel like an episode of Criminal Minds.

Still, Forbes jams a lot of plot into the film’s 80-minute running time, including a twist-filled finale that suggests the beginnings of an ongoing horror film series. (No cure in sight.)

Contracted: Phase II

Directed by Josh Forbes

IFC Midnight

Opens September 4, IFC Center