02nd Apr2013

‘Gut’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jason Vail, Nicholas Wilder, Sarah Schoofs, Angie Bullaro | Written and Directed by Elias

gut-screen

“Something is missing in Tom’s life. Every day he goes through the motions, becoming increasingly detached from those around him. His best friend Dan thinks he has the answer, a mysterious video he’s got to see to believe. What Dan shows him leaves Tom unsettled, flooding his mind with disturbing images and desires, and binding the two friends together with its ugly secret. As he tries desperately to forget what he saw, Tom’s mounting feelings of guilt and disillusionment quickly give way to paranoia and fear. One video soon follows another and another, blurring the line between reality and voyeuristic fascination, and threatening to dismantle everything around them.”

And so goes the synopsis for Gut, the latest independent horror flick to come across Nerdly HQ’s desk. But what that synopsis doesn’t tell you is just what kind of a horror filled roller-coaster you’re actually in for with this astonishing take on the “snuff film” sub-genre…

Initially a slow-burning study of the drudgery of day to day life, Gut soon turns on a knife (literally), showing Tom and Dan’s descent into madness as fact and fiction blur after watching a series of videos featuring women being gutted on camera. Tom becomes more and more disturbed by what he has seen, so much so that he dreams of gutting his wife and cannot tickle his daughters stomach during a playful game. Meanwhile Dan becomes excited by each and every new videos arrival. But it’s not the snuff film angle that actually intrigues about the film, it’s the relationship between Dan and Tom – two childhood friends now grown up and listlessly wandering through life, whose relationship is on the verge of breakdown after Tom decides enough is enough and opts to look at moving away – that is central to the success of Gut.

Despite framing the story around snuff films, Gut is no gore fest. Yes we get to see the slicing open of women’s stomachs but thankfully the film shy’s away from showing entrails spilling (or in this case being pulled) out. Instead we get an incredibly introspective, character-driven look at the effects of the videos on the two friends. And when the film takes a creepy turn – as the waitress Dan had a date with appears in one of the snuff films – you end up with more questions than answers: Is someone stalking Dan (and Tom) and providing him with the videos? Is wannabe filmmaker Dan the one shooting the videos in the hopes of “keeping” Tom? Or are the films Dan’s way of reigniting Tom’s dreary life? Or is the on-edge Tom really the one behind it all? Gut really keeps you guessing all the way through to its shocking conclusion.

Writer/director Elias has crafted an ambiguous tale which is filled with complexity and subtext; and thanks to the lack of definitive answers within the narrative you’ll be thinking about the film way after it is over. A fresh, thought-provoking take on a well-worn horror trope Gut is essential viewing for horror fans.

**** 4/5

For more info on the film check out http://www.gutmovie.com

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