Synopsis: Family man Tom has seen something he can’t forget, a mysterious video with an ugly secret that soon spreads into his daily life and threatens to dismantle everything around him.
Release Date: October 26, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Gut is the story of a pair of old friends, Tom (Jason Vail from Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies) and Dan (Flogging Margaret‘s Nicholas Wilder) who, despite working together and seeing each other nearly every day, have grown apart. Tom has settled down with his wife, Lily (A Lower East Side Odyssey‘s Sarah Schoofs), and daughter while Dan still lives the irresponsible bachelor life. The one thing the men still share is their love of horror movies, and when Dan gets a new disc in the mail, Tom joins him in watching it. However, the movie is not just a simple fright flick; it’s a grotesque production featuring scenes of evisceration that stick in both of their minds long after their viewing of it. While Tom just wants to forget what he has seen, Dan orders another of the films…and another, and soon, they are being delivered to him without his even asking. While the films take a toll on Dan’s personal and professional life, Tom struggles to hold his family together while trying to save his friend before he gets in too deep.
Gut is the brainchild of writer/director Elias (just one name, like Cher). With the exception of 2006’s LovecraCked! The Movie, Elias’ creative output has been short films. This makes sense, since Gut feels like a padded short film. The concept behind the story is fascinating; a man exploring mysterious films of unknown origin who puts himself in jeopardy as he gets closer to the truth. The motif has been used successfully in films like 8MM and Sinister, yet Gut still manages to take the story in a different direction. Unfortunately, the plot moves slowly and gets thoroughly bogged down at times. While the key relationship is obviously between Tom and Dan, Gut would be well served to explore some of the subplots that are begging to be flushed out – plotlines involving Tom’s family and the guys’ workplace would add to the narrative while still feeling organic, and there is plenty of fluff that could be excised to make room for the new content. As it is, the core story in Gut could be told in about a third of the running time.
Truth be told, Gut comes off as a feature-length student film with an exceptional cast. The story is one dimensional and somewhat underdeveloped. The lighting is amateurish and inexperienced, like it was setup quickly without much thought. With the exception of a couple of textbook rack-focus shots, the photography is bland and anticipated, doing little to keep the film looking fresh. These traits are all pitfalls of student and amateur filmmaking. The visual effects are well done; the evisceration scenes are a cool nod to classic splatter films, using practical prosthetics and karo-syrup blood to make the shots look realistic and menacing, but that’s another stereotype of inexperienced filmmaking; practical gore effects are one of the first things that film students teach themselves, and they love to use them. Basically, Gut feels like it was made too quickly – the story, while compelling, could benefit from a rewrite with a few subplots and twists thrown in and a little more time should be taken to develop some of the technical aspects of the film. Gut shows a lot of promise, but falls short in the execution.
The cast in Gut carries the film. When the story starts feeling long and drawn out, the actors are what keep it interesting. Nicholas Wilder and Jason Vail are very convincing as the pair of old friends who are forced to share a new secret. Wilder in particular is great as Dan, especially once his character really starts to unravel under the mounting pressure of his addiction to the videos. Vail is both confident and competent as Tom, the more stable of the two characters, who struggles to keep the videos from creeping into his family life. The talented Sarah Schoofs is equally good, though underutilized, as Tom’s wife, Lily, a woman who struggles to understand the new distancing of her husband. The cast seemingly begs for more from the script in which to sink their collective teeth, but Gut just keeps them trapped in their rut.
Calling Gut a horror film is a gross misrepresentation. There’s really nothing scary about it at all. There’s a bit of suspense and intrigue in watching Tom and Dan as they react to the videos in their different ways, but it’s not frightening or even disturbing; it’s just a bit fascinating, and even that feeling wears thin after a while. There’s some gore in the film but, again, not enough to cause any real squirming or gasping – it’s just there in an attempt to shock. Gut is more of a psychological thriller than a horror film; it’s a glimpse into the minds of two men who looked when they should have kept their eyes closed, and who are desperately trying to un-see what they’ve seen.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Elias
- Screenwriter(s): Elias
- Cast: Jason Vail (Tom)Angie Bullaro (Sally)Miles Joris-Peyrafitte (Young Tom)
- Editor(s): Elias
- Cinematographer: Trent Ermes
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Chad Bernhard
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA