An indie horror flick that comes across as a kind of mash-up between Videodrome and 8MM, Gut simply doesn’t have enough going on to sustain its 90 minute running time.
Filmed on a shoestring budget and written and directed by the mononymous Elias, Gut sees happily married father of one, Tom (Jason Vail), working side by side with his childhood friend, Dan (Nicholas Wilder). Dan is the perpetual manchild. In fact, it’s as if he hasn’t matured at all since his teenage years. As such, he feels Tom has left him behind in favour of his wife and daughter. When Dan gets his hands on an underground horror film, he hopes showing it to Tom will rekindle their friendship, when they would spend hours in each other’s company watching horror flicks.
The film Dan discovered is utterly horrifying. But it’s the kind of horrifying that keeps their eyes glued to the screen. It’s here that Gut makes its first serious misstep. We see footage of the film – albeit briefly – far too soon. As of the first viewing, we have a pretty much complete understanding of the footage. Though the Nicholas Cage-starring Joel Schumacher thriller 8MM was gloriously daft at times, at least it kept us in suspense as to what was on that dreaded strip of film. Gut skips this mystery completely, so there’s not enough to keep us enthralled.
Elias’ screenplay is the main culprit here. Though the premise itself has potential, there’s only really enough narrative to sustain a 30 minute film, rather than an entire feature. Thus, we are subjected to long, drawn out scenes where very little is achieved. Some are devoid of dialogue with the characters looking pensive and/or conflicted, whilst others feature a slurry of uninspired dialogue. The absolute nadir of the film is a four and a half minute argument between Tom and Dan which is contained within a single, static shot. They argue about how to resolve their dilemma, going back and forth over the same points, before finally doing absolutely nothing whatsoever. It’s simply wasted screentime. This happens time and again.
Wilder is the standout performer, and his character is a great mixture of gleeful immaturity and sinister nervousness. Vail gets very little in the way of depth to work with as Tom, whilst his wife Lily (Sarah Schoofs) gets nothing to do but have sex with her husband and then get worried when he’s not in the mood.
The cinematography is workmanlike whilst Chad Bernhard’s score starts off interesting before becoming increasingly distracting. Elias’ editing is lacklustre also, and many scenes take much longer than they should.
Gut successfully evokes an eerie, disturbing mood, but it’s a one trick pony in that regard. There’s no variation in tone from start to finish, and by the end I was desperate for the narrative to wrap up. This is one for diehard horror buffs only.Rating: