Sunday 5 January 2014

I Rot (2010)

Director: Josef J Weber
Stars: Terry Rogers, Georgii Speakman, Adam Tuominen, Kate Englefield and James Edwards
This film was an official selection at the 7th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2011. Here's an index to my reviews of 2011 films.
I first read the title for this Australian horror short as iRot, so expected some sort of rotten Apple spoof commercial. It's really I Rot and I'm still not sure exactly why, because what we're given is a corporate drama that uses zombiefication as a metaphor for everything negative about human nature, where all that might fester inside unseen instead festers outside with the assistance of make up effects and CGI flies. It's set at Perfect Touch Cosmetics, a multinational with offices in London, Paris and Tokyo and a boss from Hell called Peter Waterman. He looks like an ass from the first moment we see him and he underlines it as we follow him through the Perfect Touch building on the way to his office. He insults a young lady who shares his lift ride, apparently because she had the audacity to smile at him, and then fires another he passes merely because he doesn't like her cheap perfume. With each negative deed and thought, his external appearance gradually becomes a mirror of his internal state.

With Waterman such an obvious candidate for the character we're going to love to hate, who's going to show up that's sympathetic? Well, the supporting four are just as bad, in fact they're junior versions of Pete, two male and two female. They're all ruthless brown nosed climbers of the corporate ladder and they're eager to figure out what's going to happen in the upcoming restructure or, more accurately, to manipulate how they're going to benefit from it. He invites them to dinner at his place that night, and... well, let's just say that he has more experience being ruthless than they do. The cool curved dagger in his briefcase suggests how far he might be willing to go to hold on to his spot at the top. And, if you're wondering who you might want to root for in this short, I'll confirm that the answer is nobody, at least nobody important enough to be given a name. The two girls at the beginning seemed nice; if it takes wearing cheap perfume to piss off an obnoxious boss, I should have tried it a year or so back.

This is a horror film because Pete rots through most of it. What's notable is that he's the only one who ever brings it up. None of the asskissers do, even though they're clearly nasty pieces of work who have ample opportunity. It's all just metaphorical, an outward visual of what Waterman feels inside. It works as a general concept but I'm not sure what writer/director Josef J Weber aimed at. Was it just negativity in general or a more overt target like eighties style yuppiedom? Was it a specific feeling like jealousy or fear of being replaced? Surely there's a reason that Pete rots while Deacon, Kashia, Dana or Aysh don't, at least one that goes beyond it being his film. The idea seems good, however elusive its details, but I'd have preferred a sympathetic character somewhere to provide us engagement, even a supporting one like a long suffering wife or secretary. Without one, this runs long and slips away from us. There may be a great movie somewhere in this concept but, unfortunately, I Rot is only a fair one.

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