As the opening credits run across the screen before the image fades from black we can hear the sounds of grunts. It could easily be the sound of sex as it’s performed. But, as the image is revealed we see Tom (Jason Vail, Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies), the lead character of Gut, shirt bloodied, holding someone down on the floor off camera. There’s struggling, as you might expect. And then the scene cuts short, flashing back to an earlier time, which soon leads to the moment of brutality.
This is where we are properly introduced to Tom, a seemingly happy family man. He has a lovely wife and cute as a button little daughter. Tom works in an office seated next to his longtime best friend, Dan (newcomer, Nicholas Wilder). Dan is single, living on his own and still obsessively watching horror movies. A past time that Tom seems to want to outgrow.
When Tom brushes Dan’s invite to hang out and watch a shared favorite horror flick, Dan’s jealously of Tom’s wife and daughter become obvious. To make matters worse, Dan finds out that Tom plans on quitting his job and moving his family out of the area. A fact Tom was keeping from his friend. Dan’s response is much like a jilted lover.
After these incidents, there seems to be a change in Tom: he lies when he can’t climax during sex with his wife; and his mood seems dark much of the time.
After some awkwardness between them, Tom agrees to check out an underground horror movie Dan procured from a website. The movie seems to only be a single shot of a woman’s belly as it is sliced open. After which, a hand is pushed in and out of the wound in a sort of brutal mockery of a sexual act. Upon seeing this, Tom storms out of Dan’s apartment apparently offended. But, late that night Tom masturbates thinking of a similar scenario beside his sleeping wife.
At this point, Tom’s moodiness becomes increasingly darker as he starts to obsess over the movies Dan supplies from the original source. He even goes so far as sneaking off to watch them late at night while his family lies sleeping. Dan, on the other hand, is brighter of mood and becomes outgoing. He even gains the waitress at the pair’s favorite lunchtime location as his girlfriend. Things look up for Dan, as things grow dark for Tom.
There’s been a boom in outstanding horror films in the independent film community recently with titles such as Absentia, The Pact, and Excision. Sorry to say Gut doesn’t live up to this new wave of quality horrors. After two acts that had me excited that we had another winner, the third seems to lose stream and leads to an ending that is lackluster, simple, and rather uninspired. In fact, this third act and ending revealed to me that the first two acts weren’t as interesting as I originally thought. Complexities that I thought were there had been placed there by me and not the filmmakers.
One thing that could be said at this point is that the director simply known as Elias does have talent in creating suspense, even if it doesn’t lead to much. I think he does have a future, but he shouldn’t view Gut as a bright spot on his resume.
Film Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
–Charles T. Cochran