Movie Review - Gut
The 2014 indie-thriller, Gut, is writer-director Elias' feature length debut that centers around the extremely taboo subject of 'snuff' films. But make no mistake, this is not the 'torture-porn' film you might expect, this is a straight up Hitchcockian psychological horror done in the style of the classics. And it's done extremely well. The film deals less with the actual content of the snuff film and more with the mental unhinging of the two main characters as they deal with the ramifications and moral implications of everything that they have seen. Elias is quite the visionary when it comes to framing a shot that somehow places us directly in the mind of the character on screen. This is an accomplishment, to say the least. But the film suffers slightly from somewhat wooden performances by the lead actors and an ending that is a bit more predictable than I expected it to be. All the same, the film is now available on Amazon and is definitely worth your time and attention.
Family man, Tom, is stuck in a job he doesn't like and becomes more and more detached from his close friend and co-worker, Dan. So when Dan finds out that Tom is looking for another job somewhere out-of-town, he pushes his old pal to join him for a night of horror films, pizza, and beer. Shortly after Tom arrives, Dan asks him if he wants to watch an indie-horror film that he found somewhere online. The movie is a short, and depicts a woman being strapped to a table and having her stomach cut open. After the film, Tom seems extremely disturbed and leaves abruptly. Tom lays awake that night, unable to get the images out of his mind. Upon their next meeting, Tom advises Dan to destroy the DVD immediately. He then learns that Dan has received a second DVD and is unable to overcome his curiosity. And as it becomes unclear if the films real or fake, the two wonder if they will be able to figure it out before it completely consumes them.
I don't mean to speak badly about the actors, I don't think them untalented, but I didn't feel any chemistry between the two main characters. Jason Vail (Tom) never showed us the side of himself that would have been friends with Nicholas Wilder (Dan), instead only showing us the side of the character that has outgrown his childhood playmate. It makes it difficult for us to believe that he would even entertain Dan's neediness. And Wilder is perfectly pathetic, though he fails to earn our sympathy and never truly connects to his co-star in a convincing way. The acting isn't bad, the actors just don't work well as an ensemble.
Elias manages to expertly build the tension in the film, using only flashes of the imagery contained on the DVDs and leaving much to our imagination. This technique works wonders for the movie as most of the time what we create in our heads in much worse than can be realistically shown on film, and the director plays on this like a puppeteer pulling our strings. The use of practical effects and the claustrophobic way in which the film collapses around us only add to what I would consider an incredibly well-crafted piece of film making. Definitely recommended. Cheers.
- Leo Francis