A borderline stalker watches as the subject of his obsession is date-raped at a party in the back of a car. As revenge, said stalkee sleeps with stalker, thereby passing on the necrotic STD virus she carries therein. And now, for the sequel, this creepy dude gets to be our protagonist, hoping you won't remember that one time he watched the girl he supposedly liked get raped in front of him.
As successful a piece of body horror as it was, Eric England's Contracted had some severe issues with the womenfolk in his film, from the unlikeable heroine Samantha to her awful friends, spiteful girlfriend, and all the way across the board to her shrill mother, played by a wasted Caroline Williams. Granted, the menfolk hardly come out of it particularly well either, but Contracted bears a lot of similarities with the recent Bite in that Samantha's condition feels like punishment handed down from the filmmaker gods for... well, something.
Enter Phase II, which picks up exactly as the previous film leaves off, with Caroline Williams having her throat torn out by her now zombified daughter. As the last man to come into genital contact with Samantha, Riley (Matt Mercer) is understandably a little worried that he might have caught a little something during their encounter. But it's fine; we can enjoy this, since Riley deserves to be punished for his actions during the previous film.
This isn't just the male version of Contracted though. As Riley searches desperately for a cure to the virus, director Josh Forbes and writer Craig Walendziak widen the scope, allowing for a number of surprisingly exciting action beats and a whole host of infected victims besides Riley. Watching it spread is great fun – taking in the best onscreen nosebleed since Drag Me to Hell. The new additions of black comedy and action work well next to the all-important body horror gags, which are also kicked up a notch since the previous film. After watching Phase II, you'll never look at a contact lens in quite the same way again.
A vast improvement over its effective but unlikeable predecessor, Phase II is a gruesome but enjoyable horror sequel that builds on Contracted's successful elements but doesn't merely replay them with a dick. That dick (hi Riley) will still put a few people off, but he's certainly been toned down here. Thankfully, the horror hasn't been.
CONTRACTED: PHASE II / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: JOSH FORBES / SCREENWRITER: CRAIG WALENDZIAK / STARRING: MATT MERCER, MARIANNA PALKA, MORGAN PETER BROWN, ANNA LORE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW