Rot (Movie Review)

When it comes to Body Horror, there is no shortage of films that creep in and attack the senses. A sub-genre of Horror like no other, there are those moments that make you cringe just a little with every change that takes place upon the screen, creating palpable moments of terror.

This in mind, and following a David Cronenberg style comes the new film Rot, released via genre distributor The Horror Collective on November 19, 2020 exclusively through Amazon. The nightmarish directorial debut from Andrew Merrill, who also wrote the film. while Rot comparisons to Cronenberg are a little loaded, it still delivers an interesting and modern take on horror and toxic masculinity.

Rot still

The film follows Madison (Kris Alexandrea: A Mother’s Greatest Fear 2018, Gothic Springs 2019), a TA whose main focus is on her studies as she has her sights set on a prestigious scholarship opportunity that could be beneficial to her career after graduation. With her primary attention being on her thesis, there is also her boyfriend Jesse (Johnny Kostrey: Aquarius series, The Good Place series), who has always seemed to be a few steps behind when it comes to ambition. Something that causes a bit of animosity and jealous on his end, it is the classic case of “we’re moving in different directions” and “we just want different things” – both of which comes to light when they have a much-needed conversation.

While Madison is planning to break things off, Jesse is plotting to propose to her, but before their relationship can get messy, Jesse is infected with a rage virus by an old lady at the hospital he works at. Like a rabid animal, Jesse’s senses and everything in-between are intensified as the rage takes over his body. On the outside, he is seemingly fine, but his insides are quickly being attacked. A frightening transformation, it causes him to become agitated and abusive towards Madison before apologizing and disappearing into the night. What will the final outcome be? 

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What Rot does well is provide an excellent ensemble of characters that offer enough development that you care about what happens to them. From Madison’s easily sympathetic position, to side characters like their friends Aaron (Johnny Uhorchuk) and Nora (Sara Young Chandler: Legion series, My Sisters 2020), whose relationship is a direct contrast to Madison and Jesse’s.

As alluded to, Rot tries to set up a film in the likes of Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975) or even The Fly (1986) with just a splash of Phillip Kaufman’s Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1978) thrown in, however, the second half is considerably weak. Much of Rot’s second half takes place in an apartment where a search party has assembled to find Jesse. Fine in theory, at this point it plays out more like a Drama, instead of an enticing mystery imploring us to want more it causes frustration at how slow things are moving. A bit frustrating, while the ending’s payoff is incredible, with some truly incredible Body Horror effects, it makes you feel like you are sitting through a dramatic Lifetime movie that has gone on too long, to an actual Horror film that you intended to watch.

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It is not perfect, but Rot has potential. It is touch and go for a solid quarter of the film, but the ending finally provides that terror that you are hoping. Not to be overlooked, Cryptic Rock gives Rot 3 out of 5 stars.

The Horror Collective

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