Decay begins almost exactly like any random slasher movie you could name: two young girls break into the house of neighbourhood weirdo Jonathan for a prank and one soon ends up dead. However, the death was an accident and in the end the girl Kayla is merely listed as missing. Jonathan, the perception of whom as an odd guy is not exactly unfounded, and who yearns for human companionship but lacks the necessary social skills to make real connections with people, decides to keep the body and make her his girlfriend.
A trashier film would have gone down the necrophiliac route for the cheap shock value, but Decay treats the situation with far more tact and sensitivity. Rather than base physical satisfaction, it’s emotional intimacy that Jonathan craves, and as such his actions are geared towards ensuring Kayla remains someone with whom he can maintain a connection.
His perception of her is viewed through a filter of mental duality, on one hand seeing her as a beautiful young woman and wilfully hallucinating an idealistic relationship fantasy, while on some other level also being aware she is dead, and so meticulously maintains her corpse as though she were one of the flowers in his basement nursery, keeping her corpse as fresh as possible to prevent his self-delusion from shattering.
Even if we can’t properly understand Jonathan we still genuinely feel for him, and our sympathy is extended through childhood flashback sequences where we witness the source of at least some of his issues in some unfeeling and overbearing parental work (“Mother didn’t raise you to be a little bitch”). There is a tragic sweetness to his actions, as even though what he is doing is inarguably creepy it’s his way of trying to combat his loneliness trapped in a directionless life governed by an idiomatic code of rhyming couplets.
While the obvious connotation of the title comes from Kayla’s decomposing body, it can also be taken to refer to the accelerated erosion of Jonathan’s sanity as his mind increasingly struggles to reconcile the beautiful and affectionate Kayla he wants to see with the yellowed putrefying corpse that is actually there.
While Decay has an intriguing central premise, you can’t help but feel it lacks the substance to sustain a full length feature, and as such some sequences feel like they are being used as filler to pad out the running time. However, this partially includes some truly beautiful and artful slow motion shots of brightly lit flowers against a black backdrop, water sprayed against them with the sound effect of crackling flames. The effects, like the film itself, are beautiful and captivating, while being indistinct about what they’re trying to say.
Decay / Cert: TBA / Director: Joseph Wartnerchaney / Screenplay: Joseph Wartnerchaney / Starring: Rob Zabrecky, Hannah Barron, Jackie Hoffman, Lisa Howard, Elisha Yaffe / Release Date: TBA