Review by Jude Felton
Once in a while I receive a movie that, for whatever reason, I let sit longer than I really should. Then, when I do sit down to watch it, really wish I had got to it sooner. Such is the case with Gut, from director Elias, a film that deals with friendships, obsession, love and loss, and the dark recesses of the mind.
Tom and Dan are friends; they’ve known it each for years and even ended up working together in the same nondescript office space. The trouble is, for Dan anyway, is that Tom is moving forward with his life; he’s married now and, together with his wife, are getting a new house together. This doesn’t sit too well with Dan, who tries to find ways of rekindling their fading friendship. He believes he finds a way when a mysterious movie arrives, one which he is eager to show Tom.
Obviously the movie is no regular Saturday night snooze fest, it instead features horrific scenes that Tom and Dan question as to whether they are real or not. What is more disturbing still is the fact that the film seemingly takes root in Tom’s mind; it’s all he can think about, and thus soon has a debilitating effect on his life.
With Gut, Elias delivers the film with an incredibly measured approach, he is far more concerned with showing the effects on Tom, and those around him, rather than focus on the actual content of the mysterious movie. Fret ye not though blood mongers, as we do see parts of it, and it’s not too pleasant. The real focus of Gut though is Tom, and we slowly follow his long and heartbreaking mental voyage.
This is not the sort of film that you watch if you are expecting 1000 thrills per minute, because it really is not that sort of film. At times it moves along at an almost snail-like pace, but such is the demand of the story; it’s an incredibly psychological deterioration of one man’s mind. Elias does a great job of keeping the film focused throughout its running time and is more than ably supported by his cast, with Jason Vail, as Tom, giving a cracking and ultimately heartbreaking performance.
Aside from Vail there are also rock solid performances from Nicolas Wilder, as Dan, and Sarah Scoofs, as Tom’s wife. These two roles are vital to the progression of the story, with the two characters both pulling Tom in different directions; normality versus the fantasy (or is it?) return to childhood, with Dan’s refusal to move forward with his life.
The film itself is very well put together and, despite the relatively low budget, looks great. It’s not a gory film, although blood is spilled and there is some on screen violence, instead it is very much a psychological thriller that aims to stick in your mind after it finishes. Some films are designed purely as eye-candy, that leave you the second they finish, whereas Gut is one that makes you think, and you will find yourself pondering it after it finishes.
I’ll be honest and say that Gut is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea; the pacing may put off some, as it is a slow moving affair, and as mentioned it is a far cerebral type of film, rather than one that will hand everything to the viewer. As an example of independent cinema though, it is a brave and thought provoking movie. I will say that it could have used a little tightening up here and there, but on the whole it a most enjoyable movie, in a soul-destroying and sinister way.
Gut is available to watch On Demand now.