After having sex with a corpse, Sarah inadvertently finds herself infected with a new disease that she spreads to her boyfriend that causes the two punks to begin rotting from the inside out. Not knowing what to do and assuming their fates are sealed, the two continue on with their carefree and reckless life style while they're slowly dying. Unbeknownst to them, they are actually the guinea pigs for Dr. Robert Olsen -- the man responsible for creating this horrible disease.
Shortly after High School, up and coming effects artist Marcus Koch decided to make a feature film with his friends, no money and Joel D. Wynkoop. "Rot" wasn't his first film but one of his earlier ones that did receive a few VHS releases initially when it was made but has currently remained unreleased in this digital age. Thanks to Cult Movie Mania, this rough and dirty amateur movie has received its first DVD release and I have to say, it was a great deal of fun taking a looking at the early work of a man who has become synonymous with gory independent horror.
Sarah, a young punk chick, breaks into a funeral home to hang out with the corpses but soon finds herself excited in more ways than one and proceeds to have sex with one of the corpses. Not realizing she has caught something she inadvertently spreads this new and unknown disease to her boyfriend Muzzy. Even though they don't know what's ailing them, Sarah and Muzzy assume the worst and that death is inevitable and use that as a means to carry on and take their punk-rock life style further than they have before. However, the answers they're looking for lie back at the funeral home with Dr. Robert Olsen -- the man responsible for the disease that he refers to as The Rot.
There's no getting around it, "Rot" is definitely a rough movie. Basically made on the weekends with whatever money they had in their pockets, "Rot" has the kind of quality you'd expect from a movie made by 18 year old punk kids from Florida. Often little to no lighting, all of the actors being friends and acquaintances -- outside of Joel Wynkoop -- and the sound and video coming from a handheld camcorder being operated by Marcus himself.
"Rot" won't be receiving any accolades for technical achievements but it does succeed in a number of other ways that you wouldn't expect from what is basically a backyard movie. In terms of story, it's actually a fairly interesting concept -- a disease that causes people to rot from the inside out while they are still alive. An imaginative concept for what type of movie "Rot" is and, surprisingly, there is very little gore to the movie. Instead Marcus actually focuses on the three main characters: Sarah, Muzzy and Dr. Olsen.
Generally, amateur horror movies (especially ones done by teenagers) tend to focus on gore since that is about all they really have access to. So to see that the focus of "Rot" was actually more about the relationship of Sarah and Muzzy, their punk lifestyle and them having to deal with dying from rotting, was actually refreshing and made the movie fun to watch. It will probably be boring to most but to see a movie going in an entirely different direction from what you expect makes it more enjoyable and fun, regardless of quality. To be fair and to give credit where credit is due, outside Wynkoop's entertaining performance, Billy Scam did a decent job for someone who isn't wanting or trying to be an actor.
The overall great thing about the movie though is that "Rot" is a genuine punk horror movie. Not because it's a movie made with punks in it but because of the vibe the movie carries and that it was made with a punk attitude. It was made because Marcus wanted to make a movie regardless of what resources he did or did not have. Looking at "Rot" on the spectrum of basement produced and amateur horror movies, it stands out because most, if not all, amateur movies are made by people who have the mentality of "this is what a movie should look like." Even though they don't necessarily have the skills or perhaps the understanding of what a movie actually should be. "Rot" is a movie that was made by someone who was interested in making a movie THEY wanted to see and how they wanted it to look. It may come off as more amateurish because it doesn't conform to those ideals of what or how a movie should be. With "Rot", it's a case of a person having the confidence in knowing what they wanted to do with their movie but also knew what was actually possible. Marcus found the middle ground between the two and, for better or worse, the result was "Rot".
Sure, character's hair and clothes change between scenes and headlights from cars may not be the best type of lighting to use for night scenes. But, dammit, it's not about the technical quality! At least it's not what's important when it comes to "Rot". It's an ambitious early effort that actually has a great concept with an unexpected focus on the characters instead of gore. What I think people will like most about the movie is the punk tone that it carries. A movie about punks made by punks. It would be like if Tim Ritter had made "Suburbia". Since it is a no-budget backyard movie, most people aren't going to like "Rot" because most people aren't fans or can't enjoy amateur movies such as this. It's understandable but for the niche crowd who can like these kind of movies, then I think "Rot" is definitely worth checking out.