It’s very rare that independent horror movies manage to make me turn away from the screen and cringe. Not even Tom Six’s “Human Centipede” accomplished that and those movies were desperate to be considered disturbing. “Gut” and its beauty is in what is not completely put in front of the screen. Director Elias has every chance to be gratuitous, gory, and absolutely grotesque, but “Gut” isn’t for the grue fans, so much as it is for folks who appreciate delving in to the disturbing corners of the mind. The corners that elicit arousal that would be otherwise deemed taboo by civilized human beings. We all have that darkness within our mind that find something somewhat enticing, and the same can be said for character Tom, whose friend and consistent hanger on Dan, shows him a special kind of erotic film that not only embeds itself in to their minds, but haunts Tom until he begins to re-assess his feelings for the film in general.
Any other director would opt to show money shots of guts and intestines, and splatter, but rather, Elias explores the more artistic thought process of murder and disembowelment, and how the culprit in the film presented views it as an erotic exercise than ending the life of a helpless victim. Tom’s friend Dan is a gore hound and horror lover who is insistent on staying in Tom’s life, even when Tom begins growing a family with his wife, and seems to want to move on from his stale job in to a wider scope of opportunities and realms. Sadly, Tom is never quite sure of his relationship with his wife suits him as their sexual relationship is growing monotonous to the point where Tom has a tough time reaching sexual satisfaction. Dan on the other hand is in pursue of a waitress, and is distressed when Tom considers the option of moving to a new city.
When Dan calls Tom over to watch what could be considered a new kind of film for the duo to enjoy, things go from unusual to absolutely horrifying. The film they view is that of a faceless individual caressing the stomach of a restrained horrified woman, and then very smoothly slicing through her stomach. After the woman has bled in pools, the assailant takes unusual pleasure in slipping their hand within the folds of the woman’s stomach, almost fondling the inside of the victim’s innards. While Dan insists he bought it from the internet sight unseen, Tom is very quick to run away from what he’s just seen. Before long his mind can no longer destroy the images he’s had planted in his brain and a psychological deterioration ensues that director Elias paints with steady pacing and an unnerving score that posits the potential that Tom may have not only relished the film, but now finds a new erotic resonance in the stomach.
A particularly disturbing moment pictures Tom and his wife tickling his small daughter, to which Tom gazes in an almost fevered lust when her stomach is revealed in the middle of the horseplay. Director Elias implies a lot of unusual thoughts and subtexts within Tom’s psyche, and explores a lot of questions that Tom and his friend Dan bounce off of one another. If Tom is turned on by the film, then what next? The identity of the assailant in the film is incredibly ambiguous, as director Elias reaches a fever pitch in terror ending on a disgusting and utterly loathsome final shot, where Tom views the fall out from his and Dan’s fascination with the film.
The big question left in the finale is: Was the obvious suspect the assailant? Or were they emulating the fetish shared by both men? The bigger questions are never resolved, and in the end “Gut” is a truly grotesque bit of exploration in to the inner recesses of the human mind and what can arouse us when we least expect it to. It’s definitely a powerful horror film that deserves to be dissected for its clever nuances and brilliant direction. All in all, Elias’ “Gut” is a cerebral and shocking bit of horror for fans who love brain candy with their grue, “Gut” explores the darker nature of human eroticism, and ponders on what arouses us and how taboos can bring out the inner monster within all of us. It’s a fantastic indie thriller for fans of Cronenberg or Stuart Gordon.