Craig Walendziak | CONTRACTED PHASE II

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

Contracted: Phase II is the sequel to the grisly 2013 body horror feature Contracted, in which the world is introduced to a terrifying new form of STD slash zombie outbreak. This sequel follows one of the survivors of the first film, struggling to find a cure for the virus before it's too late. To mark the DVD release of the movie, we sat down and chatted sequels, writing and body horror with writer Craig Walendziak.

STARBURST: How would you describe Contracted: Phase II?

Craig Walendziak: It's a very fun body horror movie. I wasn't interested in doing just another person sick and deteriorating. We just saw it. That one was kind of a slow burn that exploded at the end; so I wanted to keep that momentum going forward. This movie is much more fast paced. It's set piece to set piece to set piece, then once it gets to the mid point of the movie and it goes nuts.

How did you come to be involved in writing the sequel?

I had written a body horror screenplay that did very well on all the festivals about two years ago, called The Devil's Hammer. It's a biker gang trapped in a mining town, being stalked by disease spreading cultists. JD had read that, loved it, called me and said, “We'd love you to write Contracted 2. Are you in?” And the rest is history. I gave them two pitches – one which changed drastically, because the lead Matt Mercer came onto the film after that, so I had to tailor the movie to him.

Having been approached to write the movie, how much leeway were you given in telling your own story?

They had a few things they wanted to do. The main thing is they wanted Matt Mercer back. His character is actually very awkward in the first one, and I was very excited to play with that. Other than that, they said to write it and I wrote it. They cut a couple of things, a couple of sequences and redirected it, other than that... free reign.

Had you seen the first film prior to being approached?

Yes. I really enjoyed parts of the first one. There were parts that I didn't enjoy, and I was very vocal about those. For me, the first film was about a girl being raped and getting this disease, and it was sold as a one night stand. And that really upset me. With this film I tried to write strong female characters, to make up for the shenanigans in the last one.

And as a writer, how do you approach a sequel to a movie that would have been written and created by someone else?

It's different when it's completely your original idea. I didn't find it difficult, but that's just my opinion of sequels. You don't just want the first one again. That's how you attack it, otherwise you are just stealing someone else's original ideas.

There's some really gnarly body horror at play here. Did that take much research?

I'm terrified of disease. That's my one mortal fear; cancer, flesh-eating viruses, smallpox images... these things destroy me. I'll take that a step further when I see rotting fruit and rotting leaves. That stuff makes me very anxious. For me, body horror is easy. That's what gets me.

As a writer, who are your influences?

Recently, Simon Barrett. I'm a fan of Eli Roth – the earlier drafts of some of his films. The early drafts of Hostel is one of my favourite screenplays. It's hard to answer exactly, because it's so collaborative. The screenplay you turn in, unless you're directing, isn't the movie you're going to get.

On that note, did you get much input into the movie once you'd handed in your screenplay?

It was very rapid fire. A lot of stuff we were making up on the fly as we were filming. Then when we got the first edit, they brought me back in to the edit – I had a lot of say.

Do you see there being further Contracted sequels? A franchise, maybe?

We'd love to do Contracted III and we have ideas. It depends on how this one does. I've written probably twenty pages for it so that if they do get approached, they have something to show somebody. I'd like to direct the next one. We talked about that too. I have great ideas as to what phase three of the disease looks like.

You see yourself staying in horror, then?

I just finished a big project. That's kind of more action comedy... that'll probably push me in certain directions, but I'd love to stay in horror.

Craig Walendziak, thank you very much!

Contracted Phase II is out on DVD now.

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