Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gut (2012)

Childhood friends Dan and Tom are growing apart. Dan sees that Tom has become distant with his friend, his job and from his family. Wanting to bring Tom out of his rut Dan shows him a video that he has to see to believe. What shows is an explicit underground horror film that blurs the distinction between being real or fake. At first Tom carries out with his unsociable qualities and leaves Dan's house in anger. But as the confusion subsides and Tom lets down his guard he begins to see the appeal to the film in which Dan showed him. With their friendship being at it's best in years Dan convinces Tom to watch another. As it is it begins to consume them, Dan starts missing work and submerges his life in the films. Tom carries on in his aloof manner but sex with his wife brings erotic flashes of the film as he becomes increasingly unhinged mentally. But of course things get much worse as the creator of the films has to make his influence in the friends lives. 

Gut is another addition to the increasingly small sub-genre of snuff films exploration. My sentiment of them is that I've only seen three ways to execute such, by becoming obsessed, by being a participant, or in the rare cases being the person to pull the trigger, so to speak. In that filmmakers that choose this type of film have a narrow space for originality. As is the issue with Gut, as it's a worthy addition to the collection but is nothing exceptional. The plot is thin, the story involving around the film engulfing the two friends lives. Not that Gut doesn't attempt to be thoughtful, cause in it's way it does. It's intent is to show the destruction of the family life and the ever distant friendship between Tom and Dan being held together by lies and seedy interests. But intent is only intent with this as it never fully develops on screen. Voyeurism and other topics are at play but come naturally with the films subject matter.

Tom's asocial attitude and Dan's overtly bro love for his friend makes it hard to like the characters. All you want is for Tom to lighten up and for Dan to take it down a notch and find a life. This fault is in both acting and writing as they escalate the horrible traits of the characters to the very end. Maybe all done intentionally but the only moment we see of the two's past shows an absolute no change in either character. Even as twelve year old Dan imposes his interest on Tom in attempt for friendship and Tom remains completely cold and uninterested. It's hard to like desperate and antisocial. If to salvage anything though I do think that when Jason Vail (Tom) is with Sarah Schoofs they're marriage is believable, and the small moments within the film that allow for realistic emotional responses are well played and convincing. There isn't an phenomenal display of cinematography but Gut does have a few good shots. And it's overall well made and has a professional look to it.

Though some may find excessive, Gut offers up an appropriate use of nudity and blood that are display in Tom's life and in the snuff films the two become infatuated with. The films themselves are done well and if anything are a bit tame. There's also a mystery as you never really know who's making the films. However, the ending is sought out in the beginning, and it's apparent as soon as the characters start to develop as to how this is going to end. Maybe I've mislead a bit Gut is not a bad film, it kept my interest well, or until the hour mark where the tension felt appropriate to an ending but then carries for another half hour. And as I mentioned it really is a fine film in dealing with the topic of snuff films, the concept has just been better executed in films like A Serbian Film or even Videodrome. It's also well made with a solid production behind it and ultimately I think it achieves what it wanted to achieve. There's no loss in watching Gut and if you're interested in doing so don't let my review sway you otherwise. I just don't see myself watching it again in the near future.

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