The Rotting Within by Matt Kurtz

The Sunrise Bed & Breakfast offers sanctuary for Kenzie and her children, but the secluded inn harbours more than she bargained for. Told never to venture to the third floor where two women have took up permanent residence, the single rule is hard to follow as something stirs in the walls, the malevolent force stemming from the very place Kenzie was told not to go.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Unsettling from the onset, The Rotting Within follows Kenzie as she tries to outrun an abusive relationship with her two children, refuge sought at her estranged grandmother’s B&B. Upon arrival, the only request is that they stay away from the third floor that’s home to two elderly residents. Creepy, right? Kurtz drew me in with the intrigue of forbidden places and mysterious crones, his writing taking well known tropes – the most notable being the old house deep in the woods, as well as the storm that cuts out the power – and adding a cinematic flare that made everything all the more tense. While there were supernatural elements at play, Kenzie’s struggles began with a very real type of abuse, her flesh and blood at risk. Not only did she have to persevere in being a responsible mother attempting to give her kids a better way of life, she was quickly overwhelmed by a sinister plot outside of her control.

It was predictable with its creaking floors and skulking shadows, but I nevertheless enjoyed it. The issues I had didn’t quite detract from the positive experience, but they were present. For starters, I couldn’t quite get my head around Kenzie’s blind trust and overall lack of caution when it came to strangers. Maybe she was doomed to be at the mercy of terrible people, but I just had to question her glaring naivety. Another personal complaint is that I felt the subplots didn’t have satisfying resolutions, but were abruptly snuffed out after being built up. I would’ve preferred more information in general when it came particular aspects, but as said, the atmosphere did its job in capturing and holding my attention.

In conclusion: Despite being short, The Rotting Within was packed with quite a few story threads, perhaps too many to properly tie up. It followed a single mother as she fled from an unsafe environment and took shelter with a family member she’d never met. Even though there was nothing distinctly fresh, I really liked the sense of foreboding and how ghastly the villains of the story were. I was also a big fan of the ending – yes, I’d seen it before, but it was still gloriously evil. An example that if written competently, familiar concepts can still work.

Notable Quote:

It wasn’t the rumble of thunder that pulled Tim awake but the heavy breathing over his shoulder.

© Red Lace 2022

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5 Comments on “The Rotting Within by Matt Kurtz

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