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Kathleen M. Anzaldua,
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Something is missing in Tom's life. Every day he goes through the motions, becoming increasingly detached from those around him. His best friend Dan thinks he has the answer, a mysterious video he's got to see to believe. What Dan shows him leaves Tom unsettled, flooding his mind with disturbing images and desires, and binding the two friends together with its ugly secret. As he tries desperately to forget what he saw, Tom's mounting feelings of guilt and disillusionment quickly give way to paranoia and fear. One video soon follows another and another, blurring the line between reality and voyeuristic fascination, and threatening to dismantle everything around them. Written by
Understated, Interesting, Familiar, but ultimately a Let-Down
"Gut" has a familiar feel to it. If you've seen "Thesis," "Videodrome," "A Serbian Film," The "August Underground" series,"8mm," or any of the other dozens of films covering this topic, this will feel like tread territory. "Snuff" films and their impact still represent a valid sub-genre, but "Gut" unfortunately brings little new to the table.
The story has many elements which will ring true to viewers: boring married life, soul-sucking work banality, an old friendship that has lost its zing, love of horror films; but while these parts make for identifiable characters, the film seems to wallow in them rather than rise above their baseness. It could be argued that the banal qualities are where the real horror lies, but the actors don't quite have the chops to sell it. The understated nature of the more violent parts of the film are well done and look believable, but this only echoes the feel that the film has fallen short. I certainly love understated films. "Beyond the Black Rainbow" was maddeningly open to interpretation, but left me feeling stunned and violated. While "Gut" definitely aimed for a similar jarring, I don't feel it quite succeeded.
The production presents a host of wins and losses as well. The film looks very good. Shot with a careful eye and a steady hand, the camera observes more than it dazzles, which makes for a calmer viewing experience. I was never annoyed by the editing, which is always a win when you're a long-time horror fan. The score has great and awful elements to it as well, as the hypnotic, delay and distortion-heavy, simple guitar ambiance is essentially a character itself. Almost endless, these guitar notes pluck in and out of the soundtrack without abandon, often interrupting quiet dialog or coming off as a practice recording. Additionally, the acting is wildly uneven. Several 3rd-tier characters' lines come off as forced, and the leads barely contain the film. For a movie consisting largely of dialog-free, music-driven scenes of people dealing with emotions quietly, I found this disappointing and surprising. The lines are often delivered with an unattached quality that never resonated with me. I could never forget that I was watching amateurs, and this was a detriment to the film's success. The sex scenes are frequent and relatively good, so there's that. I'm kind of over boobs and boning in horror, so it normally feels obligatory to me when it's there. That being said, the erotic displays in "Gut" are well-executed.
I hate critique. It never feels just. I didn't go through the laborious process of making a film, so where do I get off criticizing it?! Ha. I guess I'm writing this to warn the viewer what he/she is getting into. The trailer for this film is great, and completely won me over. But horror trailers (or trailers in general, for that matter) are often awesome, so I guess it comes with the territory. If you've never seen a film about Snuff, then you might like this more than I did. I suggest "Thesis," though.
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