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Mononymous director Elias, best known for his 2006 horror-based anthology “LovecraCked! The Movie”, explores the long-term effects of genre consumption with his 2011 thriller “Gut”. It’s a subject that many filmmakers have attempted to tackle over the years, though few have approached the premise with the seriousness and depth required to make this sort of feature work. Instead of aiming strictly for laughs, much like Anders Jacobsson’s grossly underrated effort “Evil Ed”, Elias decides to keep things dead serious, exploring how overexposure to insanely subversive material can effect the human psyche. It’s not your typical horror picture, and that’s precisely what makes “Gut” so phenomenal.
Jason Vail stars as Tom, your typical square-jawed suburbanite who works a thankless 9-to-5 office job with his best buddy Dan (Nicholas Wilder). The two friends have settled into a rather boring and mundane routine, eating at the same diner every single afternoon without much thought to the overall process. Tom, ever the responsible adult, has settled with his wife and child in a quaint neighborhood in the suburbs, leaving his best friend to flap listlessly in the proverbial breeze. In an effort to rekindle their floundering friendship, Dan invites Tom to his apartment to watch a new horror movie he recently ordered off the Internet, a film which ends with someone sticking their hand deep inside some poor woman’s stomach.
Not surprisingly, the flick has an effect on the two life-long chums, though each seems to react differently to the material. While Tom struggles to find sexual gratification with his lovely young wife, nerdy Dan suddenly has the confidence to ask an attractive waitress out on a date. Much to his surprise, she accepts his offer, though it doesn’t take long for their addiction to this bizarre film to mutate into something darker. Instead of settling for the one title, the friends decide to order more endeavors from the same demented director. As their obsession grows, so does their respective deviancy, resulting in a finale that’s as bleak as it is inevitable.
“Gut” is a deliberately-paced, slow-burn of a movie, and unless you’re willing to invest in the characters and their horrific plight, then you aren’t going to get anything out of the experience. It’s more of a psychological journey than anything else; cinematic degenerates looking for an endless supply of blood and carnage will be sorely disappointed. Instead of going straight for the gut — pun intended — Elias takes aim at your brain, exploring how the horror genre can have adverse effects on those already unbalanced individuals who seek some sort of strange solace in the bowels of human misery. Keeping the tale grounded in the real world takes talent, and Elias has certainly done a wonderful job making you believe this sort of thing could happen. Of course, strong performances from both Jason Vail and Nicholas Wilder helps matters tremendously. The entire affair is wholly impressive.
I must admit that, when I was first approached to review “Gut”, I didn’t know what to expect from the feature. “LovecraCked! The Movie” was so insanely goofy that I wondered if Elias’ latest effort would follow the same path. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case at all. This intriguing and thought-provoking motion picture amazed me on many levels, thanks in part to a wonderfully talented cast and Elias’ intelligent handling of the material. Anyone who has ever wondered what, precisely, might happen to someone who’s completely obsessed with the genre may want to give this flick a whirl, as it explores the concept with a surprisingly amount of emotional intensity. If you have the opportunity to check it out, I strongly recommend that you do so without hesitation. Assuming, of course, your tender mind can handle this sort of terror.
Elias (director) / Elias (screenplay)
CAST: Jason Vail … Tom
Nicholas Wilder … Dan
Sarah Schoofs … Lily
Kirstianna Mueller … Katie
Kaitlyn Mueller … Katie
Angie Bullaro … Sally