Saturday, January 5, 2013

Gut (2012) - Maybe You Can Stomach It

On the Menu: GUT (2012)

Ingredients: Jason Vail, Nicholas Wilder, Sarah Schoofs and Angie Ballaro. Directed by Elias. Run time: 90 minutes. Rated: Not rated.

At First Bite: I received a random email back in November from "Gut Productions" asking if I would like to review their film. I replied back and asked for a screener DVD. Well, it arrived in the mail about a week later, but I never got around to watching it. I feel pretty bad about putting it on the back burner. However, I haven't watched ANYTHING since THE CAMPAIGN, which was the night before the election.

Needless to say, more movies need to be watched in 2013. Starting now.

Tom (Vail) is a family man with a 9-to-5 job. Problem is he seems bored with his life. Cue Dan (Wilder), Tom's goofy best friend since childhood.

Dan comes to possess what might be a snuff film and decides it's just what Tom needs to unwind.

Instead, Tom becomes unhinged.

Tough to Swallow: Not sure there was enough gore to be classified as a horror film.

Nearly every scene cuts or fades to black. I mean, it should definitely be the focus of a drinking game.

The pacing is painfully slow at times, and shots seem to linger too much, especially when nothing is happening.

Vail seems adept at acting with his facial expressions, but his delivery is stale.

The office setting leaves a lot to be desired.

I'm guessing budget constraints kept any police officers from making the cast list. Otherwise, I don't see how you can disappear from work for a day or two and be replaced immediately without someone calling the cops.

The ending will leave you scratching your head... or shaking your head. I didn't sympathize with either lead character because I never felt emotionally connected with them.

Make sure your pets aren't around for the end credits. The music is loud and irritating, and it made my cats freak out. I can't imagine the effect it would have on dogs.

Something to Chew On: This is the second feature film directed by Elias. His first was the 2006 film LovecraCked! The Movie.

Elias also wrote and edited the film. He's also listed as one of the producers.

Several crew members make appearances in the movie.

The budget was under $500,000.

The film was shot entirely on location in New York and New Jersey. Filming lasted approximately 28 days.

It was shot with a Canon EOS 7D (within two weeks of the camera's U.S. street date).

Won Best Feature and Best Special Effects in the 2012 New York City Horror Film Festival.

Producer Anna Ganster is also the director's wife.

Aftertaste: GUT does not depend on dialogue. I know some movie watchers are turned off by those types of films, e.g., CAST AWAY and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. It doesn't bother me. Less is more, if done properly. The silence in GUT will probably make you bored because the film's pace drags so often. There are far too many scenes with characters issuing blank stares.

The acting is hit-and-miss. Wilder's Dan comes across as a slightly creepy oddball, who might be jealous of his best friend's wife. However, more often than not, Wilder himself comes across as awkward. Vail always appears seething, but struggles with delivering his lines. Schoofs might possibly be the best actor of the group even though she doesn't get as much screen time.

I think some of the best scenes in the movie are the ones portraying the "live" version of the snuff films. I still don't understand how we get that perspective if the DVDs are simply mailed to Dan. How are we privy to the behind-the-scenes stuff?

Now, the most impressive scene has to be Tom's first dream after watching the DVD. It just might be the lone highlight.

The soundtrack is definitely unsettling. I'd say it sets the tone and then some. Seriously though, hit the mute button once the credits start because the music turns into nails on a chalkboard really fast.

It's arguable as to whether or not the ending provides any answers to what transpired the previous 80+ minutes. Personally, I'd like to think the killer isn't an unknown figure and Tom is justified in his final actions. However, that wasn't my thinking while I was watching the movie seeing as how we're not given a concrete reason for us to think otherwise. Unfortunately, by the end, I didn't really care enough either way.

I sat down to watch this with no expectations. I was neither totally disappointed or blown away. This low-budget indie thriller could have benefited from experienced actors, better editing and a more concise script.

That's my GUT reaction.


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