The best compliment I can give Gutterballs is that the director achieves his goal: the film feels like a relic from the early eighties, looking every bit like a video nasty that was rejected from cinemas. There are some horror junkies who revel in the hardcore gore and relative seriousness of such films. I can�t say I�m one of them, and, judging from this homage, I don�t plan on trying again anytime soon.
The title prepared me for a humorous slasher set at a bowling alley. I was half right. It definitely takes place at a bowling alley, where the bodies are piling up faster than rental shoes at closing time, or pins after a strike, or analogies when a reviewer�s trying to stall. The film begins with a confrontation between two groups of not-too-bright, not-too-clean teenagers who set us up for another eighties trope, the slobs and the snobs. Fun is about to be had�
�and then a girl is raped for eight minutes.
Thought it should be obvious to anyone intelligent enough to work their DVD player that rape is not much fun, the girl is raped for eight minutes. And while I saw plenty of opportunities for us to step outside that scene and move on to the rest of the story, the scene goes on and on and on. This doesn’t have to be the end of the film, assuming the film justifies such cruelty by presenting an attitude or opinion about what happened. But it doesn’t.
What results is a weak slasher film memorable only for its desperate efforts to shock. And I will nobly concede that the film successfully shocks. I actively looked away from the screen a number of times, especially due to the massive amount of genital-related trauma in this film. I guess that�s the final frontier of horror films (remember Planet Terror�s jar �o� testicles?), and Gutterballs has death scenes that are as creative as they are disgusting. But to what end?
An emphasis on gruesome kills suggest that the film exists mostly for cheap thrills. So it would seem that the film is designed for those who just want a simple, enjoyable ninety minutes. But, wait, maybe it�s for post-modern snickering from those who appreciate its callbacks to older horror films, admiring the fresh coat of paint on a drearily old product. Hell, it could even be meta, in the way its characters and situations are so artificial that they keep bringing up questions of what the filmmakers were thinking.
But if that�s the case, why spend so much time at the beginning focusing on the cruelty of rape? Are we meant to chuckle through this like we chuckle through normal �kills� in a horror movie? What separates the two acts is that the former is relentless and personal and cruel, whereas horror movie �kills� can be impersonal, dismissive, and fast, pushing the audience instead to admire the technique leading up to sudden violence.
Apart from the gore gags, though, there�s little to no technique on display here. There�s just the desire to recapture a shallow horror ethos that didn�t need to be dredged up again. If you’re a fan of such things, have at it. As for me, I’ve moved on.