The killing starts early in Gut, but it will take a while for the viewer to figure out just what’s going on…. but that’s the creepy fun here. Just out on DVD and most streaming sites after a year at various horror film festivals (including DC’s own Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival last October), this movie from Elias (no relation, and known conventionally as “Elias Ganster”) features a 30-something, dark-haired office worker Tom (Jason Vail)—a husband to redhead Lily (Sarah Schoofs) and father of a young blonde moppet—situated in an Illinois city-bound cubicle office.
Over a sandwich-and-fries lunch one day with weary office mate, and longtime friend and creepy bachelor, Dan Jones (Nicholas Wilder), both horror-flick obsessives, Tom confesses that his life is stressed and boring. Dan bears down hard on his plain bread friend, berating him for his pathetic taste for PIXAR films (“C’mon the last one looked like garbage! Talking fruit?!?”) he watches in the company (or burden, depending on which of the men you ask) of his standard-issue American family.
Family counseling might have avoided poor Tom’s fall from fragile grace. Or a little less obsessive best friend, as Dan is a more than perturbed after learning Tom plans to move his family away. Coaxing his buddy to watch an underground slasher video only makes the situation worse. Like 2002’s The Ring blended with a more graphic NIP/TUCK-style opening credit sequence, the movie within the movie has a frightening effect on the men.
Soon the two film lines blend into one another with disturbing visual imagery. Madness (as texturized by director of photography Trent Ermes) breaks Tom out of his stagnation and Dan becomes sexually assertive and deceitfully smug. Unfortunately there are innocent people nearby that become fallout within this murderous and sensuous bomb radius. Going cold turkey in this weirdly obsessive and somewhat unrealistic super-paranormal situation should be as easy as hitting the STOP button on the DVD player, but neither man seems able to do just that. Paranoia reigns. Then paranoia rains.
Gut strikes a nice psychological mood balance within its low budget framework. I especially liked the electro-beats and occasional foghorn blasts of Chvad Sb’s score resonating as something off kilter. Vail and Wilder work well together, with decent acting chops between the two of them. The story could have used a little more heft and the determined pacing (some might call it “painfully slow”) will turn off unsettled non-genre fans. We’re looking at an early David Cronenberg in the making here. Gut is Troma-fan Elias’ love letter for his fellow horror buffs.
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