What is Rotten Flowers about?
Rotten Flowers (AKA Ukrudt) is a dark depressing tale about a pair of sisters – Rose (Josefine Lindegaard), a sensitive soul and Nora (Mie Gren), a tough-as-nails woman with a lot of inner demons to control. When Nora sends Rose a video that seems to suggest she’s having some severe mental health issues, Rose decides that the best course of action is to take Nora into the forest for a healing retreat to try to help her… at least, that’s what she says she’s doing. Soon Nora will be put through absolute hell in ways that she never expected.
Rotten Flowers Review
Rotten Flowers is a film that’s going to undoubtedly trigger a lot of people (as in the legitimate meaning of the word trigger, not the internet meaning), with its heavy use of sexual assault throughout the film. If that is too much for you, then just stop here because Rotten Flowers uses sexual assault a lot as a way of creating the horror that makes up the latter half of the runtime and while some of it is merely implied, most of it is shown in fairly brutal detail and makes for an insanely hard watch even if this isn’t a triggering subject for you to deal with.
Told almost entirely from the perspectives of Rose and Nora, Rotten Flowers spends most of the time showing the bond between the sisters only to cut away to their male acquaintances every now and then, which is largely when the sexual assault kicks in. It’s almost like the film needs to go to the woods in order to meditate and calm down after each moment of raw brutality and once the film has caught its breath, it goes back for more and then repeats the cycle again.
Between the bouts of sexual violence we get little glimpses of what might have made the relationship between Nora and Rose strained, little hints here and there of something from their childhood that worked a wedge in there.
All of this is filmed with expert framing and care to only show what’s needed for the moment to work, it’s graphic but not gratuitous which is an important distinction to make. With the large and seemingly dying woods as a backdrop, there are a lot of chances for some very effective visuals… but still, it’s an insanely hard watch and at the end of it, what is there to say about this?
On a very technical level, Rotten Flowers is genuinely horrifying and will undoubtedly disturb any audience that watches it, which seems like the bare minimum for a horror film to accomplish but it does that by just repeatedly raping one of the two leads in various ways, either with consensual sex gone wrong or just a brutal sequence of gang rape in the back of a panel van. That’s your horror, that’s where the dread and disgust come from and it’s a very hard thing to watch. It’s an endurance test and it doesn’t seem like you get much for passing.
This isn’t to suggest that you can’t use sexual assault in a film, you can but you better be damn careful when you do it because it is such an intimate and intense violation that if you abuse it, you’ll just make a film that upsets people.
Sure this film might be about revenge being served ice cold (or at least that’s what the plot synopsis might read) but after watching it, it just feels like we’re watching a very long SVU episode without the catharsis of knowing Benson or Stabler are going to come along to solve the case. It’s just not a fun time to sit through, after a while you just end up feeling kind of depressed because there’s more sexual violence to witness for seemingly no reason.
Rotten Flowers Overall
Rotten Flowers is well made and well acted, there’s no denying that, but the subject matter is so touchy and intense that it’s almost destined to hit some audience members the wrong way and unfortunately, this reviewer is one of those people who just didn’t like it. It’s a dark depressing film that’s undoubtedly horrific but the reasons it’s horrific are less to do with cleverly built tension or a well-timed scare and mostly just because rape is horrific in itself and seeing it happening several times is going to disturb no matter what.
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