M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Six of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2015 and going through September 30, 2016. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on November 7, 2015. Available on digital download and On Demand! Also streaming on Tubi!
Directed by Joseph Wartnerchaney
Written by Joseph Wartnerchaney
Starring Rob Zabrecky, Lisa Howard, Elisha Yaffe, Jackie Hoffman, Hannah Barron, Reese Ehlinger, Whitney Hayes, Jason Knauf
Find out more about this film here and @decayproject
Meticulous and engrossing, DECAY is a film that involves some pretty horrific subject matter, but in the end, it perfectly exemplifies in a sometimes gorgeous, sometimes soul-crunching, and sometimes nightmarish manner.
Jonathan (Rob Zabrecky) is a strange young man. He works as a maintenance man at a local amusement park which is shut down for the season. Since his mother (Lisa Howard) passed away, his only brushes with others are his braggadocious buddy at work (Elisha Yaffe) and his neighbor (Jackie Hoffman) who stops in to give him frozen meals every week. His life is an orderly and controlled one, filled with OCD ticks like opening the door twice before entering or leaving through it and keeping collections of delicate flowers and keys he finds at work in his basement. His level life is upended when a pair of young girls break into his place thinking he is growing weed there and when one of the girls has an accident and ends up dead, Jonathan finds himself with an unclaimed body and an overwhelming need to connect with someone new. As Jonathan develops a relationship with this dead body, the rest of his orderly world begins to crumble around him.
DECAY is an amazing piece of filmmaking. Unfortunately, it deals with a subject matter that is going to turn off many, so a lot of people aren’t going to see this film about a man who falls in love with a corpse. But I’m not even talking about that ghoulish detail. I’m talking about how accurately and fantastically well this film depicts the subject of loneliness. I’m scared of many things; sharks, zombies, rats, bees, being chastised in public, but the number one thing I am afraid of is being alone and worse yet, dying alone. And I think, if you’re honest with yourself, I’m not the only one. By following Jonathan through his controlled and meticulous life, we see what it is like to walk in the shoes of a man who is utterly and entirely alone. Long scenes are pieced together showing the banality of Jonathan going about his life – taking his pills, hanging his found keys, watering his flowers, riding his tricycle (yes, he rides a tricycle) to work. When writer/director Joseph Wartnerchaney adds in the dead body that literally drops onto Jonathan’s doorstep, she just becomes another cog in the continuously but steadily spinning wheel of compulsion that keeps his fragile psyche together. Through repetitive cuts to his daily activities, he maps out the most convincing depiction of loneliness in cinema I’ve seen in quite some time.
And this is a beautiful film. Some of the compositions in the frame are breathtaking. Slo-mo shots of water hitting the petals of a blooming orchid. Arial shots of the segmented suburbs where Jonathan lives. The way the film shows the slow progression of time as Jonathan does his insane job of hand cleaning an entire amusement park; scraping bird crap off every bleacher and gum from under every table. Simply looking at this film is a treat for the eyes as it slows the world down and shows how repetitious it really is in its smallest details. There’s a scene where Jonathan washes the corpse, which is starting to stink and draw flies, that despite the grossness of it all, is lit by candles and red lights in a way that makes the whole thing simply eloquent. I know it sounds sick, but this is a beautiful movie. It’s just a beautiful movie about a man who falls in love with a corpse.
Rob Zabrecky is mesmerizing as Jonathan. Seeing his predictable life tossed into chaos with the introduction of this new dead person is engrossing to see unfold. Zabrecky makes you feel for his well-being even while doing creepy things. As with MANIAC (and it’s modern remake), he’s the only POV we have here, and though he is uncomfortable with others and creepy as all get out, he still somehow convinced me to root for him because, in the end, he didn’t really do anything wrong (well, at last initially as he didn’t kill the girl, though he does lie to police looking for her body). DECAY deals with tough topics and there is a huge ick factor going on all the way through, but this painstakingly slow illustration of a life alone entranced me with its gorgeous cinematography, engrossing story, and talented star in Zabrecky.
THE 2015-2016 COUNTDOWN!
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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