Horror Movie Review: Rot (2019)

Taking inspiration from David Cronenberg, Rot is the directorial debut from Andrew Merrill, who also wrote the film. It stars Kris Alexandrea, Johnny Kostrey, Johnny Uhorchuk and Sara Young Chandler.

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A blend of body horror and parasitic infection, Rot takes a while to get going but when it does it’s a brilliant bit of tension horror. Sadly it drops the ball in spectacular fashion with a finale that doesn’t fit the tone of everything we had seen up to that point. The effects in this portion elected laughs for just how stupid it looked.

Madison has a very busy life. She is a teaching assistant to a demanding professor, has her own studies to focus on and is working to get a significant scholarship opportunity. Finding time for her boyfriend Jesse is a bit of a problem. Even more so as his lack of ambition worries her even though he has a job working in a care home for the elderly.

The couple just aren’t on the same page and it leads to an eventual break-up. Something that hurts Jesse as he was planning to propose.

If all of that wasn’t bad enough, Jesse is then infected by some unknown parasite transmitted to him via an old lady in the care home. Whatever this thing is, it wants to spread and begins to force Jesse to violence. Then he disappears and no-one knows where he is. Yet more and more infected are showing up.

The best thing about Rot is its characters. A very likable bunch, all with their own feelings and motivations that make them very relatable. In particular the characters of Aaron (providing some genuine comedy moments) and Nora. It’s all about relationships but the film sets them up strongly with flashbacks to happier moments and showing the progression over time. It makes you care and that is very important when they’re soon to be in peril.

Talking of which… the parasite. There’s a bit of Cronenberg’s Shivers and Phillip Kaufman’s Invasion of The Body Snatchers to this. The infection/parasite is kept very mysterious. Where did to come from? What does it want? How does it spread? How does it control? These are all questions that aren’t really answered but it works in the film’s favour as it creates fear of the unknown. The birthday party scene is tense stuff as you’re unaware of just who and how many there are infected.

Sadly, Rot is far from perfect though. The film slows down in the second half as we get a really lengthy scene in an apartment where characters are trying to work out how to search for the missing Jesse. When it does speed back up, it’s lost some of that lustre. It’s still enjoyable but your kind of looking forward to the end now.

Which…look this ending, as far as body horror goes, it delivers, and many will get a kick out of it. The issue is that it’s just out of place. The movie was telling a dark and serious tale that seemed to be heading towards an emotional and harrowing finish. Instead, it goes for silliness and it just doesn’t work. This one is certainly going to be up for debate.

Rot (2019)
  • The Final Score - 6.5/10
User Review
9.05/10 (2 votes)