By: Heather Seebach
In the tradition of films like Videodrome and A Serbian Film, the independent horror Gut explores human beings' fascination with snuff film. Tom (Jason Vail) is your average family man, but lately he has become increasingly bored and detached. His best friend Dan (Nicholas Wilder), a horror movie enthusiast, thinks he has just the trick to liven Tom up - a mysterious DVD he ordered online. What they see on the disc, however, disturbs them so much they cannot shake the imagery. It continues to consume their minds and ultimately takes a toll on their friendship, too.
Gut is built around a simple but great premise that it doesn't quite live up to, unfortunately. It starts off very strong with an eye-opening first shot, and when Dan (a character this horror nerd can relate to) referenced Carl Weathers within the first three minutes, well, it hooked me. But the beginning escalates a little too quickly, forcing the latter two-thirds of the film to drag on. Pacing soon becomes the films biggest obstacle.
The films strongest aspect is its editing, particularly in the first-third of the movie, where we see brief interjections of horrific things shown in juxtaposition with Tom's "normal" life. It is a clever technique that succeeds at building dread. The use of sound is also quite good, as is the sometimes-raucous but often-effective score. The horrific moments - as seen in the disturbing, quasi-erotic DVD footage - are also done very well. The images that inspired the title certainly are memorable.
Despite a strong beginning, Gut loses too much steam and fails to flesh out its premise and characters. Story threads are not followed through and in the end, it leaves the audience thinking, "That's it?!" Still, the sense of uneasiness throughout shows some real potential. I love the editing - I just wish there was more of it! It's an intriguing movie with some haunting imagery, but ultimately it drags too much and delivers too little.