Chicago Rot posterHaving premiered at FilmQuest, Salt Lake City’s very own genre film festival, Chicago Rot seems determined to throw as many of those genres into the blender as possible in 100 minutes. It is the kind of movie where you know by the opening credits (playing over images of a mysterious woman at a piano in the back of a pickup speeding down the freeway) that you are either in for a wild ride, a train wreck, or both. Chicago Rot‘s genre puree falls into the both category, often in a good way.

Les (actor and co-writer Brant McCrea), aka legendary Chicagoland vigilante/anti-hero “The Ghoul”, is released from Joliet prison, immediately resuming his mission to take vengeance on the man who killed his mother and also apparently stole his soul (we don’t really get any details on the soul stealing, one of many plot points we have to roll with). Les is pursued by no small number of adversaries, including police detective Dave Simmons (Dave Cartwright) and Tammy the Berserker (Peter Renaud). Fortunately, he’s pretty resilient to bullet holes, as we learn when girlfriend Alex (Shira Barber) enters the picture to put her man back together, literally. The weirdness increases from here.

Chicago Rot piano openingAside from a pretty mondo script, Chicago Rot delivers no small amount of the expected horror goods in the FX department. Ryan Oliver overcomes his budget and produces some pretty imaginative, over-the-top stuff. The acting is uneven, as might be expected, although McCrea does some solid work grounding Les as a character, helping us stay involved even as we dive deeper and deeper into the bizarre. Director Dorian Weinzimmer imbues his film with a great local feel, invoking the grit and grime of Chicago while also creating a supernatural underworld that somehow fits.

If Chicago Rot does manage to find some distribution, it will make for a fine midnight movie at the local art house. The whole thing never really ties together, and it is definitely not going to be for everybody. The final confrontation alone could generate reactions ranging from a trance-like state to profound irritation, but the film never bores, and it is pretty far from predictable. Little films that could like this remind that there is a lot more out there (way out there in this case) than the constant flow of sequels, reboots, and rip-offs at the multiplex, and they are quite often worth seeking out.


UGeek Rating: 4/10