I’ll bet a lot of you often hear horror sites and blogs like mine proclaiming that you should ‘support indie horror’ and personally I disagree with that sentiment. For every amazing indie film such as the recent AMERICAN MARY or FATHER’S DAY there are at least a hundred others which quite frankly suck. So I think that the phrase needs to be changed to ‘support good indie horror’ because supporting a bad film for the simple fact of it being an independent makes no sense to me at all. Obviously with the seemingly endless sea of indie films (especially since the advent of affordable DSLRs) it is difficult to separate the good from the bad, but if you look hard enough you can always find a diamond in the rough. GUT is one of those diamonds.
GUT opens with an exciting and intriguing scene. A man spattered with blood leans down over what we can only assume is another person who is in the process of being strangled. Since the second person is off camera this assumption is reached thanks to the choked and labored breathing which is all we can hear. After this rather violent introduction we are then introduced to the same blood spattered man, this time free of blood and in an entirely different context.
Tom (Vail) is a husband and father who leads an incredibly routine and seemingly boring life. His job is unsatisfying and eventually we discover that his home life isn’t much different. He seems to be just going through the motions, day in day out the same old routine. Fortunately his best (and perhaps only) friend Dan (Wilder) notices how distant Tom has been and so he formulates a plan to spice up his friend’s life a little and get him out of his rut. He pesters Tom to come watch a movie with him, just like they used to do in the good ol’ days. At first Tom refuses, reasoning that he plans on spending the night with his wife and daughter watching the latest Pixar film. Eventually he gives in and winds up at Dan’s place where he finds himself watching a very interesting and disturbing film that Dan discovered in the deep recesses of the Internet. The footage would appear to be some sort of snuff film but as to its authenticity they can only both guess. One thing is certain though and that is the fact that the film has affected Tom deeply, enough for him to lose sleep as disturbing images flood his mind. Before long Dan has purchased another of the macabre videos and they both realize that as much as they may want to, it’s too late for them to turn back. Something terrible and inescapable has been set in motion.
Although it may seem that these mysterious videos are the most important aspect of the film they aren’t really focused on to such an obsessive extent as something like say VIDEODROME. The most important aspect of the film is the relationship between Tom and Dan and indeed a sizable portion of the movie is spent developing them. As a consequence GUT is quite a slow burn and it’s a while before we are treated to the more exciting scenes. But like a lot of these slow burn psychological thrillers if you stick with it you will discover that the payoff is worth the wait.
Let’s talk about the videos in question. I mentioned snuff and so logically you’ll probably expect a fair amount of gore. There is some gore but the film definitely doesn’t go overboard with it, in fact it is quite conservative, showing only as much as it needs to. The effects are all practical and are amazingly well done which is always good to see. There is also a strange kind of perverse eroticism to the videos as breasts are sometimes visible and the hand of an unseen person tenderly strokes the victims before dispatching them.
For a low budget independent film GUT is surprisingly well crafted and as a consequence doesn’t look or feel low budget at all. There are only a handful of characters but the acting and the writing are both a lot better than I would have first expected. The soundtrack another thing I must mention because although I watched GUT with my fiance who commented that parts of the soundtrack were annoying and distracting, I personally found that it fit well. Parts were indeed jarring but I feel that it only added to the atmosphere of the film.
GUT is by no means a perfect film and although I’ve been practically raving about it, it does have its issues. The slow burn lead up will put some people off and as I just mentioned the sometimes harsh and jarring soundtrack will irritate some people as well. Some may find the ending to be a bit too brief as well and may not appreciate the film’s open-endedness as a result. But for a person who can look past these flaws there is an enjoyable and fresh experience to be had in GUT and it’s easily one of the more satisfying films I’ve seen this year. I recommend that you check it out and remember; support good indie horror.
Review by; Jake Cadaverous
Review originally posted HERE.