Three segments showing rather unusual love-related stories. Each dealing with a dark and twisted love or desire, from cannibalism to self-mutilation.
I'm not sure if you recognize the name Erik Zijlstra, but it's a name I have come to enjoy in the last couple of years. Erik Zijlstra made the neat arthouse short "Dreamvisitor". And more recently, he made the sacrilegious pornographic film "Make Satan Cum", and not to mention that he was on Dutch television regarding making pornography. Between these two short films that I had previously seen, I knew he could make thoughtful art films as well as ridiculous porn. So where would "Rotten Romance" land on this scale? I'm the first one to see this film so there's no way of reading up on it, so I decided to expect something more along the lines of "Make Satan Cum". I think I was right, but it's much more fun than that one, and certainly more twisted (maybe because it comes off as less silly).
"Rotten Romance" is quite literally what the title tells you. It's three stories romanticizing something. The three segments, or chapters, are called "The Blind Date", "Daddy's Birthday" and "The Funeral of a Penis". Our first story is reminiscent of a scene in "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover", both in content and style. It's basically a blind date gone wrong, ending with the woman cutting out the intestines of her blind date. It takes place in a red and green-lit room, with table and two chairs in the middle. It's pretty visually great, as I'm a big fan of mixing colors through lighting, but at the same time it doesn't go crazy with it so it really works. The "story" itself doesn't really go anywhere, but that's fine - a little cannibalism is all we need.
"Daddy's Birthday" will most likely remind you of the mother of necrophilia films. Yes, "Nekromantik". Simply because it deals with necrophilia? Sort of, yes. But it send off a similar vibe too, I think. As you can hear from the title of this segment, this is one that doesn't just involve necrophilia, but incest necrophilia. A woman is making love to her father's rotten corpse on a dirty mattress on his birthday. Again, where does the story go after that? No where, and yet again that's okay! This is all about being repulsive and I think the idea behind this is messed up enough to work.
Finally we have "The Funeral of a Penis". This is definitely the one I enjoyed the least. It didn't keep the same tone as the other two, and was rather silly in execution as well. It's about a tranny who has cut off his penis and is about to bury it so a singer will like him/her. It's essentially showing us his walk to the burial ground, with shots of the "action" inserted here and there. I don't think the idea is bad here, rather the way it was filmed and how the effects looked. Even though all three segments are pushed far with the purpose of being extreme, the other two had an advantage in both style and the underlaying idea being gnarly enough. Here we have a silly-looking tranny who is burying his penis - for this to really work I would've wanted to see some extremely convincing effects. And that's not the case.
Overall, the effects in all three segments are fine. The first one is probably the best one, where the intestines looks realistic enough in the red/green light. The second one has a pretty cool looking corpse, with its only flaw was how it moved when she pushed against it. A bit too stale. As for the last one, the penis literally looked like a human-colored dildo, and the angles they went with proved it to be true. It's tricky with sawn-off penises, in most films it looks bad so people should be careful.
"Rotten Romance" works as an extreme movie that just wants to be extreme. It works because it doesn't try too hard, or go over-the-top. Each segment has one thing going, and that should be enough. In this case it doesn't come of as shocking but it works as far as using controversial subjects go (except for the last segment). If you just want to watch a short film that involves some sick things, but ends up being more enjoyable than sickening, then "Rotten Romance" would be a good one to check out. With a title like that, you kinda know what to expect as well. I think "Dreamvisitor" still has better content, but this is probably Erik's most entertaining short so far.