Starring Jason Vail, Nicholas Wilder, Sarah Schoofs
Directed by Elias
Slow burn psychological indie thrillers are rarely good. They’re hard to pull off, as all the pieces have to fall into place; it’s rare to come across a low-budget indie psychological thriller that’s just “meh.” These extremes, of course, lead to more disappointment than anything, and such is the case with Gut, a weak thriller written and directed by a mononymous man named Elias.
Tom is a boring man leading a boring life. Every day he goes to his boring job wherein his best friend Dan, still living the life of a horror film-obsessed teenager, attempts to break Tom out of his funk. Upon hearing that Tom is thinking of moving away, he attempts to reconnect by showing him what appears to be a snuff video. As the days pass after watching the video, Tom begins to experience bizarre dreams and visions that suggest the film had a greater impact on him than he might dare to imagine.
It’s impossible to genuinely believe that these two friends would become so disturbed at the sight of a snuff film involving a woman’s gut being sliced open. This isn’t because it’s not possible; some people are so weak-willed or innately disturbed that seeing said films would cause irreparable damage. No, it’s because the actors are so boring and wooden that the film’s attempt to be atmospheric and elicit a feeling of creeping dread and suspense falls flat.
As Tom’s marriage begins to weaken at the seams, Dan begins to quickly unravel, with random videos appearing in his mailbox showcasing the unfortunate death of his new girlfriend. Another opportunity for suspense comes and goes as Dan’s dwindling sanity is met with a ho-hum attitude as portrayed by Nicholas Wilder. It’s almost as if this is a mild inconvenience. He lacks emotion, which is surprising given his character.
The film progresses much like the life of the antagonist: slowly and without direction. Sporadic scenes of quiet contemplation and sex serve as a means of exhibiting Tom and Dan’s downward spiral, but they happen with such frequency and with nary an ounce of suspense that they appear to be nothing more than filler. The build-up does little to satisfy the lackluster conclusion, which leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. It’s not excessively gory or dark; it’s just a weak payoff for a weak story.
Gut tries terribly to be more than it really is as it briefly flirts with gore while attempting to maintain an air of true suspense. Unfortunately, the script and characters are so weak that it’s just mostly boring.