DreadWorld Review: 'Decay' (2016)


There are certain film that I watch where, when the film is over, I think "There but for the grace of god go I..."Which is one of the wonderful powers that film holds over us. The fact that someone we've never met can tell a story that is so identifiable that is can shake the viewer to their very foundations. Joseph Wartnerchaney's film, Decay, is at it's core about loneliness. But the film also brilliantly touches on themes of abuse, religious obedience, obsessive compulsive disorder and most importantly rebirth, It's a film that takes a damaged piece of all of us and coalesces them into one of the best films of the year.

Jonathan is lonely. His various psychoses have crippled his emotional and social development and have left him almost entirely incapable of dealing with the outside world. Most of his ticks come, in traditional horror film lore, from his mother, a woman who would make Norma Bates seem like Donna Reed. Jonathan has insulated himself to the point of OCD-like routine. When two young girls break into his suburban home resulting in their accidental deaths, Jonathan's twisted mind sees a faint light at the end his tunnel of loneliness.

In short, Decay is a brilliant film. Writer/director Wartnerchaney is able to craft a film that, over the course of 90 minutes, makes you feel pretty much every emotion known to man. That being said its subject matter may be too much for general movie going audiences. The films macabre roots put it squarely in the same "brilliant but hard to digest" category as a film like Dead Girl.

Decay looks wonderful. Although made on an indie budget, it never looks like it is. Far too often independent horror flicks look like shit. Instead, Wartnerchaney has infused Decay with one of the most amazing rich color palates I've seen in a long time. Each frame seems masterfully manipulated to use certain colors to invoke certain emotions. There are scenes of color in the film that almost evoke a giallo feel, if not in context, but certainly in the way that color is used.

Wartnerchaney's vision would be just that if not for its flawless execution by star Rob Zabrecky. He infuses Jonathan with so many layers that it's impossible not to identify with him at some point during his emotional journey. Despite some of Jonathan's actions being horrific and his internal decision making process being flawed, we still empathize with him. After all, all anyone rally wants is to be loved.


Decay may not be for everyone. If you re the type of person who despises flashbacks, dream sequences, and a lot of character building moments, than you might ant to pass on Decay. In fact, a cogent argument could be made that, despite its rather horrific premise, Decay is not really a horror film at all. It's a character study. It's a film about actions and consequences and how as a parent you an really fuck up you child. There are s few gross out moments, that like the rest of the film, are flawlessly executed, but if you are looking for a Herschell Gordon Lewis-like blood bath, you should look somewhere else.

I stated it above, but it bears repeating, Decay is a wonderful film. It is an emotional roller coaster about a character who at his core is flawed, but we can't help identify with. The film works because, at a fundamental level, there is a little part of Jonathan in all of us. We all have that desire for companionship, that need to not be alone. When that basic empathetic human emotion is coupled with brilliant film making and one of the best performances of the year, the result is a film that is both haunting and mesmerizing.

**** 1/2 stars out of *****

Decay is now available to stream on all the usual platforms. Check it out and support independent horror.

That's it for me. As always, thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

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