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Understated, Interesting, Familiar, but ultimately a Let-Down
Hexy Decimal6 November 2012
"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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Works in the end
You have to endure a lot until the movie actually delivers. Which is the loaded end, that is really suspenseful and might keep you on the edge of your seat. If you let it, of course, because you might be so annoyed by that point that you don't care anymore. It's not only the "worst decision" possible thing, that brings the movie down, it's the essence that seems to be missing (would have worked a lot better as a short movie or with a better worked out script).

As it is, the end might leave you with a gut pun(ch), but not really satisfied. The acting isn't really good, the dialog either, nudity will either be considered positive or negative in your book, depends on you. Overall a decent first time effort, if you don't have anything against small budget (looking and feeling) movies
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Erotic, intense and well-executed thriller
filmbizarro8 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I've always had a soft spot for film's about a person getting obsessed with something odd. Having a character completely obsessed with a gun, a film, a machine, whatever quickly draws me in. Maybe it speaks to my own slightly addictive personality? Who knows, but what matters is that "Gut" is a film of that kind. The obsession in this film is a tape. Our lead character Tom is just about to move to a new place with his family, and get a new job. But he's a bit off - there's something about the changes that he's not happy with. The same goes for his best friend Dan, who is a major movie geek. His friend fears that he will lose his friend, and notices how weird Tom is acting. One day Dan gets a tape in the mail that he knows Tom just has to see. He invites him over and they watch this tape that showed a woman's stomach being cut open, and a hand is pushed into the wound. They don't know whether this tape is reality or fiction, but they both become shocked yet fascinated by it. Tom can't get the images out of his head, and Dan keeps getting more of these tapes. Even though Tom wants to stay away from them, it's as if they are calling him. The idea of being obsessed with a tape is certainly nothing new, and "Gut" suffers from some predictability. But it doesn't weaken the movie at all, because there's something very different to this film as well. It's not so focused on the tape or the footage that it becomes another "Videodrome", it's always about Tom and his relationship with his lady and his friend. The tape didn't create tension between the characters, it was there to begin with. It just happened to appear in their lives at a time where they both needed something to hold on to. I think it's good that the movie stays as vague as it is, because even though we can guess what will happen next, the vagueness gives it a creepy feel that wouldn't have been there otherwise. It's impossible for me to review "Gut" without mentioning the sex. There are lots of scenes that could only be described as erotic. Almost everything about the movie hints towards something erotic. Even the scenes of the stomach's being cut open come off as perverse. Not only because it shows breasts, but the way the hand touches the wound. The movie doesn't shy away from the nudity, there's plenty of boobs and some glimpses of Tom's penis. Penis excluded, I gotta say, it's a sexy movie in all its creepiness. "Gut" manages to draw you into its world in no time, and it won't let you go until it's over. It's rather predictable at times but that never takes me out of the movie. It's a simple movie yet creepy, intense, perverse and erotic. Everyone on screen does a fantastic job, even the smaller roles. It's not all that gory or graphic, but it also doesn't mind showing what it needs to show, and that includes some well-executed scenes of stomach's being cut open, lots of nudity and occasional blood. "Gut" is a great, psychological thriller that'll lure you in before you know it. Highly recommended!
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Interesting but a little to slow thriller
abisio18 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
GUTS is the type of independent movies you do not expect a lot and end up getting really hooked into it.

Two friends; one of them in the middle of a crisis and the other a lonely (and a little wacko) get obsessed with some snuff videos; and things start getting ugly.

It is important to note; the good taste and quality filming of the bloody scenes; that reach the desired effects without becoming a gore feast.

As interesting as things become; the script is not developed enough to fill 90 minutes; so there are many over extended scenes and an irregular pace.

The small groups of characters; is intimately presented; but their particular conducts or problems never fully explained; thus reaching a tragic but ambiguous conclusion not completely satisfactory in my personal opinion.

In brief; defects apart; the film is worth watching and the director is one to follow up.
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Extremely poor
markellis31912 September 2012
There is not much to say about this movie, other than poor. Poor acting, Poor Story( what there is of one) and a dreadfully poor attempt at a movie.

Do not waste your time and money on this.

The movie takes an eternity before something really happens, and when it does you will be wondering why you have sat through it for so long.

now i don't mind slow paced films however there is nothing here to keep your interest, and like me you may find yourself skipping the film forward, and trust me you will not have missed nothing. it surprises me that movies like this are ever made.
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100% predictable, 100% amateurish, totally not worth seeing.
M. Qtips (M_Qtips)1 February 2015
Anyone who is ever seen a horror movie before will figure out right away what it is they're about to sit through another hour of dreadfully dull 2-dimensional characterization and seen-it-a-million-times-before filmmaking to find out. This could've been a 20 minute short film, and still wouldn't have been a terribly interesting one at that. I'm not sure how this even so release, and I am positive that the glowing reviews are fakes by people connected with this film, because there is absolutely no way an objective human being Who was familiar with the horror genre at all could lavish praise on this. This film doesn't even try to be good. The filmmakers had one unoriginal idea, and they thought that all they had to do was put that idea on screen and that would take place of plot, narration, character development, Robert themes or any deeper meaning at all, not to mention that this is the single least gory "torture porn" film ever, with a total of maybe two minutes of exceptionally tame blood & guts, so it doesn't even work if that's what you're into. So instead, we get a feature length view of barely-developed characters walk a treadmill to a conclusion that we can see already from near the beginning of the movie. This film makes "Paranormal Activity" look as action-packed as a Michael Bay film, as well-crafted as Hitchcock, and as intellectually challenging as Tarkovsky.

Look, if a couple of high school kids up the block made this movie, I would congratulate them for doing a great job… for a student film (although it wouldn't really be *that* great a job, even for students.) But as a film that got real attention and supposed awards and wound up on a major streaming site that I pay money for? No fargin' way.
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Gut: A spoiler free review
Mike Roberts1 June 2014
This is a great debut feature from writer/director Elias. Although classed as a horror, it really is much more of a mystery thriller, with a focus on characters rather than action, and it works very well. This is a great movie for fans of independent film, and a great lesson in low key, slow burn tension building. It covers subjects like obsession, voyeurism, friendship, and the onset of adulthood and responsibility; but it also throws some great gore (and a descent amount of boobs) in the mix too.

The film focuses mainly on two male leads(Tom and Dan), friends since school but now gradually drifting apart as adulthood takes its toll. The other main characters are Tom's wife (who lovingly attempts to keep her husband engaged in their relationship), and also their daughter. Except for a couple of other incidental characters, that is pretty much the whole cast, but it is all the cast that is needed here. The injections of comedy at the start may, at first, seem like this is another attempt at mixing comedy and horror, but it isn't, it simply helps cement the impact of the dark deterioration of the characters later on. This film is, as I said, a slow burn, it's character based and dialogue driven and not one for people who need something explosive happening in every scene, however, fans of psychological horror thrillers should love it. The lead role of Tom (played well by Jason Vail), really captures the disenchantment of adult life, while Dan (equally good) represents that person who clings to his youthful freedom and cant understand why his friend wont stay there with him. Tom's increasing detachment from his friends and family is really the catalyst for all that comes later.

The film makes it clear that the two friends have always been fans of horror, (using various inter-textual references), and in an attempt to get Tom to engage with him again, Dan orders an underground horror movie from the internet; this is where things begin to go downhill. Eventually, Dan persuades Tom to come and watch the mysterious film with him, at first Tom is horrified by it, but afterwards cannot stop thinking about it. Nightmares, strange desires and hallucinations start to add to Tom's already struggling mind while Dan's obsession with these strange videos grows.

The gore in this film doesn't come in huge buckets, but when it does come it is very well done (the film earned a well deserved award for effects), part of me would have liked a little more gore at times, but the other part of me knows that it would have seemed gratuitous and would have detracted from the story itself, so I shall reprimand the gore hound in me for this craving.

I wont go further into the plot to avoid spoilers, but I will say that the ending is very well realised; many films that leave questions at the end either leave too many questions or give no clues to the truth at all. Here, although quite subtle, I think a great balance between closure and ambiguity is reached.

If I had any complaint about the film, it would be that in a couple of points the dialogue seems a little forced and unnatural, but this is very minor nitpicking in an otherwise engrossing, disturbing and well executed film.

I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more from writer/director Elias in the future, I suggest you all do the same.
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Disturbing thriller let down by lack of production values
Leofwine_draca4 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
GUT is a disturbing little thriller that occasionally overcomes the homemade look and feel to offer something a bit different. It's an extremely dark film about an ordinary couple of guys whose lives are changed when they view a bit of disturbing video footage, a viewing that will have huge implications for the pair of them.

This film mixes together a disquieting atmosphere with a snippet or two of extreme gore for effect. As an independent production it suffers from the usual gamut of bad acting and the fact that it's stuck inside a single apartment for the most part, a pity when the filmmakers had the chance to explore the whole of New York. However, it does manage to be realistic and it does have a decent twist ending; it's just a pity that the problems override the good stuff come the end.
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Stupid and Terrible
hannahtunnicliffe15 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Takes forever for anything to actually happen and it is so predictable.

You may find yourself skipping parts of the film as did i to get into the parts where something was actually happening and even then it wasn't anything special and it was confusing.

The film is about two men that watch a horror film about a girl that gets her stomach sliced open, they then get hooked on the film and are influenced by it. It is unrealistic and contains unnecessary nudity.

Reminds me of a film that would be made for a school project. I defiantly wouldn't recommend this film to anyone don't waste your time or money.

It contained poor acting and overall a poor and slightly weird film. Waste of an hour and a half.
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A slow burn indie film about two friends dealing with their dark & depraved desire to watch a DVD that was left in the mailbox of a real murder.
CursedSeal8616 April 2013
"Gut" is a unique New York Indie Horror Film that is unlike anything you have ever seen. Tom (Jason Vail) is a father & husband caught in a dead end pointless job with his immature childhood friend Dan (Nicholas Wilder.) We share in Tom's resentment towards everything in his life, including the people around him. Dan, on the other hand, has a child like sense of wonder at his own lack of responsibility. The viewer will find themselves liking/relating to either Tom or Dan but will end up knowing them both intimately. Dan surprises Tom with an offer to see a new horror film that was left in his mail box. Their childhood love of horror films causes them to relish in this eerie & unexplained snuff video. This secret indulgence causes tension in all of Tom's relationship including with his wife Lily (Sarah Schoofs.) The violence & twisted story line is so tastefully done, it will make the viewer feel like a voyeur as well for watching this film & especially for wanting to watch the snuff video in this film. It is a slow burn horror story that twists are view of what a horror film actually is. It is not a slasher or gore picture but contains disturbing images & ideas that putting it mildly are not for the faint of heart. "Gut" is definitely worth the watch, if you are a true horror fan.
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The Highly-Enjoyable "Gut" of the Suburban-American Beast
kraftwerk42313 January 2015
Hello, everyone! If all you horror buffs out there are on the prowl for the kind of interesting, compelling, and innovative horror-thriller that really isn't made anymore, that dares to *involve* the viewer in its horror (and not just splay it all out there graphically for the viewer to revel in), then "Gut" is absolutely the perfect movie for you! :) It's a terrific socio-psych horror film...think of it as "Fargo" with a Todd Solondz spin for the first half (with all the occasional dark humor that implies), with really great character development and humor, and an building sense of ambiguous mood/dread throughout (with Kubrick-esque sound design) that leaves your mind racing faster and faster. It has a Western/Jarmusch-esque alternation of quick cuts and long takes, but never in like a distancing or showstopping sort of way like Michael Haneke. And to top it all off, the underlying issues/theme of the movie are always clear and 100% relatable, about the neediness and isolated dependency and suppressed hostility of American suburbia, and the arrested development and uncommunicativeness that can result. The plot may revolve around snuff films, that is true (only VERY rarely seen on screen in slivers), but the film is REALLY about all the suppressed emotions and urges that get manifested *through* them. If you like movies like "Fight Club" and "Cape Fear", but on a smaller, more human indie-horror scale, this is most definitely the movie for you! Enjoy, everyone! :)
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