It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born. For the curious, here are links to 2008, 2009 (a bad year), 2010, 2011, 2012 (when we left the blog behind), 2013, and 2014. Holy Shit Saturday Contracted (2013) Writer/Director: Eric England Contracted is an interesting attempt at a combination body-horror/zombie film along the lines of something David Cronenberg might have done thirty or thirty-five years ago. Oh wait. He did do this thirty or thirty-five years ago. Writer/Director Eric England lifts generously from Cronenbergs Seventies and Eighties oeuvre to create a film that not only has a confused understanding to gender but seems to have a serious problem with women — particularly women who have no interest in “nice guys.” The story, in a nutshell, is about Samantha (Najarra Townsend) a young ex-junkie turned orchid grower (??) who is on the outs with her first lesbian girlfriend Nikki (Katie Stegeman) — who happens to be a horrible bitch. While at a party thrown by her best friend Alice (Alice Macdonald) — who happens to also be a bitch, but one who not-so-secretly wants to get in Samantha’s pants — she gets roofied and raped by BJ (Simon Barrett) who was off fucking a corpse with a biohazard toe-tag earlier. Of course, everyone in the film calls it a “hook up” and the marketing calls it a “one-night stand,” but she was drugged and raped in the backseat of a car while begging him to stop. Which leads to the inevitable zombie STD with its massive hemorrhaging, irritating rash, and the always enjoyable vagina maggots. Oh yeah. And watching all this from the sidelines is Riley (Matt Mercer), the good guy who can’t stop stalking Samantha even though he knows she has no interest in him. Throughout the film, Riley is constantly presented as a quiet, likeable guy promising to always be there for Samantha — except for that time he watched her getting raped in a car and did nothing about it. I suppose he gets his payback when, after turning almost completely into a zombie, Samantha invites him over for a quick shag. Despite the fact that she is literally rotting away, with sores and boils on her face and dodgy eyes, he’s still extremely quick to whip it out and shove it in. So he kind of deserves it when his “You’re so wet” line leads to a pile of bloody maggots pouring from her vagina as he recoils in horror. But at the same time, there’s nothing in the film to really suggest he’s being punished for being a creepy stalker who withheld information about her rape. Instead he’s kind of being punished for being a nice guy. He’s the victim here. There’s so much hostility towards the female characters in this film I kind of began to wonder if I was just being too sensitive. After all, torturing female characters is a staple of horror films. Maybe this was just an awkwardly scripted attempt to cash in on the body-horror genre. So I asked Dr. Girlfriend what she thought, and she said — and I quote: “That movie was sexist as FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.” So that was good enough for me. If you just like gross-outs and don’t really care if they come with a heaping side of misogyny (not to mention nonsensical doctor visits and nobody noticing or caring that a rotting woman is serving food and wandering around town), then check out Contracted. I wouldn’t recommend it, though. Dead Within (2014) Director: Ben Wagner Writers: Matthew Bradford, Dean Chekvala, Amy Cale Peterson, and Ben Wagner I would, however, highly recommend Dead Within — especially if you want a more interesting and nuanced look at women in horror. Dead Within was shot first over a non-stop 72-hour stretch in director Ben Wagner’s own cabin in the woods, and then over four more days for pick-up shots. The performers were only given access to the beginning of the script and told to improvise, knowing only that certain story beats were pre-planned and partially scripted. Wagner ended up with over 100 hours of footage from which to formulate what is a very well-done psychological thriller that could almost be described as The Yellow Wallpaper of the Zombie Apocalypse genre. The film stars Dean Chekvala as Mike and Amy Cale Peterson as Kim, a husband and wife who just six months earlier were a normal couple with a new baby and a social life. But after the zombie apocalypse, which has cost them both their friends and their baby, the two of them are isolated in their cabin, slowly running out of food and sanity. Mike goes out every day to search for supplies, leaving Kim at home to wait and wonder if he is ever coming back. Kim’s days are an endless repetition of mindless drudgery as she cleans the floor, washes the dishes, paints murals on the walls, and then pretties herself up for romantic dinners to celebrate their surviving another day. For six months she hasn’t gone outside and is finally, as our story picks up, losing her mind to paranoia and hallucinations. There’s so much good stuff in this film that it’s hard to talk about certain elements without revealing plot points. Hell, I’ve already said too much. Let me just say that the direction is superb and the performances, outstanding. As with The Battery earlier in the week, the use of improv — good improv — really helps to establish a sense of verisimilitude and create an almost immediate emotional connection and anxiety at the same time. If you watch this film and like it as much as I did, there’s a plethora of background material and multimedia expansions of the Dead Within world available on-line, including a timeline for the disease, a conspiracy website, Kim’s blog, Mike’s website, along with their wedding website. There’s a tumblr for their baby and their friend Erika’s cabin where the film takes place, along with a website from Ranger Mark, which calls into question some of the events in the film. In addition to all of this, there are also Twitter accounts for the film and all the major characters (hat tip to AMFM Magazine for the list of links). So what are you doing just sitting there? Go watch Dead Within. And then go read The Yellow Wallpaper. EZMM 2015 Day 7: Contracted (2013) & Dead Within (2014)ContractedDead Within3.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (1 Vote)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.