Monday, 27 January 2014

Film review: Pretty Dead (2013), Contracted (2013) & Thanatomorphose (2012)

Alright, in this post, I'll review three recent movies with pretty much the exact same theme; zombification of attractive women. I have no idea what started this whole "trend", but I'd bet it has something to do with wanting to see how blurred the line of what is and what isn't necrophilia can get. After all, the whole "it's not really necrophilia if you jizz on a corpse's face"-thing is getting old, zombies are in again, and there's a whole new sexual revolution going on; so what's a better way to show that you get the shit than a film with no other purpose than to squish the lines together until it's one disturbing mess of guts, periods and tits? Since I watched these three in row, the order I watched them in is the same order I'll review them in.

Pretty Dead

...although that first paragraph probably suggests that every single one of these is borderline necrophilic, that's not true for this one. It's the least sexual horror film I've seen in a pretty long time, and it's practically PG-13. Then again, you know, it's not actually horror (unless you count the last... what? Ten minutes?), but whatever.

Everyone seems to be hating the shit out of this film, and I don't personally see why. Yes, it's slow, it's confusing at times and it has a lot of things that don't seem at all connected unless you're paying attention. Yes, the camera is shaky and the acting is far from perfect, the music gets annoying and its advertising is all really blowing shit out of proportion; no, it's not a fucking masterpiece. It won't change the whole genre of zombie films or anything like that. There'll be a lot of spoilers in this review, so if you haven't watched it, don't get mad at me for that.

Anyway, I was surprised in a positive way. I pretty much had no expectations at all when I started watching this, apart from the fact that it seemed to be about a girl getting sick somehow. The cool thing about having no expectations (quality-wise or plot-wise) is that then you're much less likely to be disappointed, and I don't enjoy being disappointed, so whee.

Right in the beginning, it was obvious (before that doctor guy said anything) that she apparently has Cotard's syndrome... but then, it turns out it's not that and she's got some stupid fungus shit inside her. From the point where it was clear that it really is a fungus, that there's really a physical thing wrong with her, I have to confess, I had a bit of a "meh"-reaction. I mean, why does no one ever go ahead and make a fucking film about someone struggling with Cotard's? It's like the holy grail of psychological horror, so naturally everyone wants to throw a reference or two at the condition (especially after there was that girl in Hannibal with it), but it's never just Cotard's. Well, usually it's nothing more than a quick, vaguely Cotardite fling, really.

The whole Cordyceps thing made little sense as well, plot-wise at least. Did they just want to cram two cool-sounding fucked up things that start with C together and call it a zombie? Like, yeah, it's a cool idea, but I feel like it just wasn't made justice with the "correct" proportions. If there had been more physical changes to her and she'd been in denial about the issues she was having, then that would've been much better, but maybe that's just my opinion. After all, subtlety can be a good thing.

Still... I think a lot of people didn't enjoy this film because they don't know that Cotard's syndrome is a real mental disorder and Cordyceps is a real fungus. It's like with "The Bay", another great found footage horror movie that dealt with a sort of pseudo-zombie infection, reviews complained about how it was unrealistic for there to be a parasite like that. So, I suppose if the "barely any visible changes and very little actual mental instability"-formula is considered extremely fucking unrealistic, something more spectacular (and in a way, more realistic) would be outright ridiculous.

Like I already mentioned, the advertising seems way off. This isn't a horror film, and if you start watching this with the mindset that it is, no. No. Stop right there, eat some bacon and chill until you're ready to watch a romance drama with bits of unintentional comedy. Then you're ready to sit through this. It's not romance, but it is drama and it has a lot of relationship shit, and the acting at some of the "this is serious shit" moments is just beyond hilarious because of how bad it is. I'd like to point out the doctor guy especially; the way he's calmly emphasising shit, it's just... well, I don't know why it's so funny, but it just is, and I know real doctors are like that, but seriously. Some minimal exaggeration would've sit right down on it and it would've had a dramatic effect, but I couldn't shake the Dr.-Phil-"you-have-a-problem"-style-impression.

Anyway, I'm picking nuts (?) here, and should conclude this review with something that's actually relevant: the ending was awesome. I won't spoil that for anyone, even though I suppose I already have, in a way... just the whole change in tone, it was pretty well done. Not as effective as the tone-shifts in, for example, "Megan is Missing" or "Chronicle" (funnily enough, both of those are "found footage" as well... nothing in common with this, though, but you get the point), but still. The creeping suddenness of the shit-almost-hits-the-fan is what prompts me to give this 50/100. It's far from great, but it has some interesting stuff in it, and if you're into this type of films, you'll probably enjoy it. Just don't expect too much.

OH, and before I forget, I laughed so hard at that morgue scene. Yeah. To quote everyone on Tumblr, I can't even fucking breathe. THE GUY WAS GONNA CUT HER OPEN WHEN SHE STILL HAD HER CLOTHES ON!??!!?!? LIKE WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK THAT IS NOT HOW YOU DO AN AUTOPSY ARE YOU A FUCKING COROPRUDER WHO CAN'T LOOK AT A WOMAN'S BREASTS WITHOUT WANTING TO THINK OF IT AS FUCKING PORN EVEN IF SHE'S DEAD?!?!?!? LIKE YEAH SHE WAS HOT AND DON'T GET ON MY ASS ABOUT SAYING THAT BUT SHE WAS LIKE IN THE MORGUE AND YOU'D THINK A CORONER WOULD KNOW THAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO TAKE THE CLOTHES OFF BEFORE YOU MAKE AN INCISION LIKE WHAT THE HELL!??!?!?!

*cough*

...no, I'm not saying this because it would've been "sexy" for there to be nudity in the film.* I'm saying it because there would've been so many ways around this hilariously unbelievably bad mistake; he most probably wouldn't have started cutting her open yet anyway, so why wasn't he gonna... wait. Why was he even doing an autopsy? Wasn't it pretty obvious she shot herself in the head? Oh well, illogical things in films aren't anything new, haha.

*Not that I'd think dead bodies are sexy. OR DO I!?!?!?!?!? It's a mystery for life! No, but seriously... people who associate all nudity with sex are hilariously idiotic.

Contracted

With only a bathroom break in between of "Pretty Dead" and this, my expectations were somewhat mixed; I knew this was similar, although again, I had no idea it'd end up in the protagonist becoming a zombie until the point it became obvious. I found that kinda funny, especially since my decision to watch "Thanatomorphose" was knowing that it's about that... so it was a half-expectable coincidence that the other two were as well, because I'd looked for "body horror" films. Obviously, a lot are about diseases, and the only disease in modern horror seems to be a zombie infection of one type or another...

Anyway. I have to say, from the start, I was expecting something bigger. I mean, what was the point of that whole corpse-fucking beginning? It had nothing to do with the rest of the film, as far as I could tell, unless it was meant to imply the origin of the zombie STD, but that doesn't really make sense unless it was the BJ guy in the morgue. But whatever, if a guy introduces himself as "BJ", isn't that like screaming "I'm a rapist!" and shit?

I don't really know what to say about this, other than that I feel like there was a lot of pointless going around in the same places over and over again, but that's how life is, so... it was realistic in that aspect, at least. Repetition, repetition and repetition that gets increasingly bloodier so gradually it's quite smooth.

And I liked the red eye(s), the whole "let's go to a doctor first"-thing, and pretty much everything, apart from the annoying mum. Then again, she was clearly not meant to be likeable, so that's a good thing. 70/100.

But yeah, like I said, I expected it to have a lot more stuff to it. You know, variety, but it does actually have a great deal of that, at least when compared to the one last hot-girl-becomes-a-zombie-and-has-all-her-periods-at-once-film I sat down to watch...

Thanatomorphose

Now, this one. All my expectations shattered in the first fifteen minutes... and I'm sure yours did/would/will as well, because really, the acting is some of the worst ever, there's no trace of plot, both the guy and the girl seem annoying as all hell, but then... then something happens. Shit hits the fan, and although it happens at a pace that's slower than an obese snail going uphill, it hits hard. Before you know it, there's shit flying all over the place and the ceiling looks more and more like someone's genitals. Seriously. I don't know if that was supposed to be some symbolism about... something... or if it was just a way to demonstrate the time as it went on, but it added to that damp, clammy dread that's splattered on literally everything that's in this film.





Again, this one isn't really horror either, and truthfully, I don't think it tries to be; whereas "Pretty Dead" struggled to be shocking and "Contracted" just happened to be sad and disgusting, this one... I don't really know how to describe it, and I don't think anyone else does either. Not in a way that'd do it justice, at least, or properly contain the sheer filthiness. You'll just have to grow some balls and watch it yourself in order to understand.

...and when I say "grow some balls", it's because your balls will start to fucking tingle at the weirdest moments in ways you didn't know possible... well, at least mine did. It felt like they were trying to dig their way as deep inside my body as is physically possible. I'm not saying this is one of those "sex is bad, and you'll never think of it again if you watch this"-types of films, but it's damn close. Especially the ending. For dear fuck, the motherfucking ending.

You know how I said "Pretty Dead" has an ending that's a messy twist? Scratch that, this one takes the cake and eats it once it's decades past its due date. I bet you'll be looking away as a natural human instinct at some parts. That's how slow, harrowing and goddamn depressing it gets. I won't spoil anything specific, but if you're anything like me, you'll get all these numb shivers on your face at one particular scene.

The only downside to this, apart from the awfully shitty beginning, is the realism with a few exceptions. You see, the putrefaction and decomposition are realistic as fuck in this one, unless I've totally misunderstood how death works... but there are a few painfully obvious (although stylistic) mistakes. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, fuck if I know, but when we're talking about flies and maggots, the flies come first. Then the maggots, from the eggs that said flies lay, and another thing is that we never see any flies. Not even one. Their sound is heard, though... by the last couple of "stages", there should be loads and loads of them! Oh, and her vocal cords seem to be perfectly functional until she's nothing but a skeleton...

...but I'm picking nuts again. That, and the incredibly exaggerated very last bit, it's the closest to a "plausible zombie" that I've seen in any film. And she doesn't bloat, her face remains pristine until way into the whole deal, blah blah, but still, there's that "sense of realism" to it, even if... a lot of it, actually... isn't realistic. I'm not sure how else to put it. AND THAT CRAWL. To quote everyone who's ever been on Tumblr, again, NOPENOPNOPENOPENOPENOPENOPENPEONOENOPENOPE NOPE. nope.









nope









Overall, though, it's amazing, visually and because the atmosphere is some of the most claustrophobic, chaotic and jarring I've ever come across in any film. There's just so much detail crammed into every little twitch, it's ridiculous. The only thing that keeps it from being practically unbearable is the tendency for there to be loud moments of frustration. Those are the relieving parts, even though in most those would be the despair-emphasis-parts, and I think that says something about just how fucked up this film is.

The plot is obviously not the most original, even though it might be the first film of this type (as far as I know?), but it has so much tension that it just doesn't matter that there's very little actual plot and the only character development is pretty much annihilation.

All things considered, I'll give it 85/100. Yes, it's amazing, if "amazing" means "I'll never [insert verb] again". Go watch it, or if you're feeling like it, watch all these three totally unrelated but similar movies one after another like I did.

Funny how I watched them in that order; if I'd watched them in any other order, I would've been left with a bunch of disappointed rants to post. So, yay!

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