I will be honest; I am not the biggest horror movie fan out there. Now that isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy a good scare or violently gorgeous-looking movie death in a horror film, but after a while of watching the same found footage or slasher movies, it gets a bit old, to me anyway. I guess maybe I am looking for something a bit more from horror movies instead of the usual tropes that are the hallmark of horror movies. So sometimes my gaze towards horror is set upon on the low-budget fair, the movies that need to separate themselves from the miasma of those standard horror movie themes. So GUT came across my review plate and I will admit, I was ready for something different.
GUT is directed by Elias, yes a single name director, a horror movie that centers on two friends Tom (Jason Vail) and Dan (Nicholas Wilder) who watch an apparent snuff film, shaking them out of the numbness and dull lives they are living. Soon after watching the movie, the images still linger as Tom struggles to cope with what he has seen and Dan becoming intrigued and involved with the material. What unravels are the effects of the video worming its way into the lives of the two men and the people they care about. A psychological play on madness that effect the two men differently.
It is an interesting premise to say the least, especially with the use of the snuff film as the catalyst to charge the men’s madness. As horror movie watchers go, you kind of feel like you have seen everything out there in terms of shock and gore, so the movie posits this jump into the supposed snuff variety as the final border that is being crossed. We watch horror movies because we enjoy being scared and seeing subversive stuff, but what about actually watching someone dying? How does that affect the viewer and what linger effects are there? GUT manages to bring up an interesting idea, but it doesn’t seem fully fleshed out and stilted in the end.
The strength of the premise and story is not fully carried through with the acting and story delivery. The two leads seem stiff and a bit lifeless, making the emotional impacts of certain scenes not believable. The conversations between Tom and Dan don’t seem natural as it has this abrupt feeling like they are running to finish their line quickly and start the next sequence of dialogue. Even the casual use of vulgarity doesn’t have a certain fit in the movie and I love fucking swearing, but that just doesn’t seem like a fit in the movie. I can’t say that they are terrible actors since they are working from what they are given, but nothing feels right in the movie, thus losing my interest in what is happening.
While this is a horror movie, there are several intimate and rather disturbing death scenes. The “snuff” killings on tape have a subtext of eroticism as the killer, who is unseen, plays with the subject before killing them. The blood mixed with horrific gasps of a last breath of life make for unsettling moments that streak across the low-budget, artistic scenes. This is clearly where the most care is given in the movie since the aim is to make it unsettling for the viewer as it is for the two leads.
I was excited for this movie, hoping for a low-budget, deep horror movie considering the premise. In the end I didn’t think it was a strong movie or even had a solid follow-through between each acts of the movie. GUT poses some great talking points and the idea of the boundary crossing fake deaths to real deaths that the leads witness. The further they go down the rabbit hole of the films they watch, how each will react and deal with what they witness. This arch is muddled and lost amongst the shifting acting abilities and predictable resolution of the movie. I will say it is telegraphed pretty bluntly, lessening the reveal in the end. The abrupt ending does nothing to satisfy a viewer looking for a full closure or answers to questions they have.
GUT will do OK amongst the horror community. It has been around the horror movie circuit and I think that there is a certain group of fans who will enjoy a different kind of slasher film. Those wanting more blood and scares would do wise to pass on it. Me on the other hand, I am going to go with my gut and say I wish there was more exploration of the psychological aspects of the characters instead of devolving of the story to get to a predictable ending.
I give GUT 2 Ab Slides out of 5 (got to get my abs chiseled)
By Nick Guzman