GUT is a study of the obsession and hypersexualization of horror and violence. Tom is bored with his work-a-day life and is trying desperately to change it. Tom is wishy washy and afraid to do anything to change the status quo in any of his relationships. He has grown cold toward his wife, Lily, though she does not seem to notice; and he is trying to find a new home for them without telling Dan. Dan is Tom’s best friend and he is not happy with how distant Tom has become. As childhood best friends they made and watched horror movies though now their only shared activity is a lunch break from work spent at the diner. Tom has a beautiful wife and young daughter and Dan has his bachelor life spending it bumming rides or watching movies. Both seem earnest and likable characters-each with their own faults-until Dan receives a mysterious dvd-r that he originally claimed to have ordered from a website. Dan is in high spirits the day after he watches it and invites Tom over to see for himself. Afterwards Tom is disgusted and outraged and storms out of Dan’s apartment.
That night Tom finds himself sexually aroused by what he had seen on the video. The video seeps into his psyche and emerges when he looks at his daughter and when he makes love to his wife. What kind of video did he and Dan stumble upon? It seems to be a snuff film that shows a young woman tied down to a table being molested and eviscerated slowly finishing with the unseen killer removing his latex gloves before repeatedly penetrating and withdrawing his fingers and hand through the incision he has just made. At first Tom and Dan are incredulous but then come to the conclusion that it is indeed a snuff film and they have watched someone die. Tom insists that Dan destroy the disc and not order more but Dan appears a man transformed. He is happier and more confident. Of course he orders more and Tom, already in a downward spiral, is pulled back in.
With Tom the obsession has all the hallmarks of an addiction and Dan has what he wants-his best
friend visits him again. Dan thinks he may have changed Tom’s mind about moving and is happy about the state of their relationship. Finally the men find themselves in too deep when someone close to them shows up on one of the DVDs. In a frantic race to get out and end up clear of the ruin the videos have created in his life Tom goes upstate again to find a new home and a new life. What happens leads Tom to finally make some strong decisions concerning his relationships though it also takes him back to his old home.
GUT is a feature length psychological horror film written, directed and edited by Elias and produced by
Elias and Anna Ganster. It is well shot except for a couple of brief moments where the framing is rough and it is very well edited. The score is a discordant cacophony orchestrated by Cvad SB that adds to the mood of the film even though it almost makes the ears bleed. It was filmed in New York and New Jersey and makes good use of its limited sets and locations. The sound mixing is excellent and has depth. GUT is a well executed movie in all technical aspects. Casting is overall excellent. Tom is a stretch for Jason Vail but most others acquit themselves admirably enough. Nicholas Wilder as Dan is uncanny. There is something about the character that brings Jeffrey Combs’ Herbert West to mind. The cast is rounded out by several beautiful women who have no compunction about doffing their clothes. Sarah Schoofs is excellent as Lily and gives a memorable performance while Angie Bullaro is equally excellent as the flirtatious Sally although it is a much smaller role.
GUT is a hard film to watch. It is a slow builder that is benefitted by continuously mounting tension. It tries to turn a mirror on the viewer to invite introspection and to question one’s own complicity but it doesn’t quite succeed. I’m not sure if it is due to desensitization that its target audience will likely have or in its extreme delivery. As you may have figured by now there is a bit of nudity in this film. Elias skillfully uses it to entice and to revolt at the same time trying to pull the viewer deeper into Tom and Dan’s hellish reality. The final act is intentionally ambiguous as the viewer has no real idea who is making these videos or their true source due to Dan’s unreliability. Check it out if you have the chance, GUT is an intense if staid flick. Check out the trailer below. Thanks go out to Anna Ganster for the review copy.