I have to admit that I was not sure if I was going to like this movie at all. Other horror fans had told me that Gutterballs was impressively sleazy but that's not always a good thing, depending on the tone of the film and how many other aspects it gets right. Gutterballs gets quite a few things wrong but I have to admit that I was impressed and entertained, overall.
The evening after a particularly nasty and brutal gang rape, a local
bowling alley is the scene of a number of revenge killings committed by
someone who seems particularly handy with the trappings of the ten-pin
world. As is so often the case in these movies, the survivors continue
to remain implausibly oblivious to their potential appointment with
death long after normal people would have figured out that something
Where writer-director Ryan Nicholson succeeds here is in his unabashed,
unflinching depiction of some downright nasty nastiness. The effects on
display here are often eye-wateringly impressive and many moments will
make you wince. There's also some good humour here and there, some of
which is obvious (I, personally, enjoyed the banter coming from the
Wax-o-matic machine) and some of which I just hope was intentional so
am giving the benefit of the doubt to (e.g. most of the script in the
latter half of the movie, the movie is listed everywhere as a horror comedy so I think it's fair to say that most of the laughs were intended).
Sadly, the negatives really drag things down. The acting on display
here is pretty atrocious and it seems that the women were just chosen
for their willingness to show their breasts (not that I'm complaining
TOO strenuously about that, mind) and the guys were picked thanks to
their ability to swear, act like the worst kind of misogynists and
endure whatever makeup work was required. Candice Lewald deserves some praise for being especially brave in her portrayal of Lisa, the victim of the graphic sexual assault while the other actresses deserve praise for their severe underwear allergies. To be fair, Mehola Terzic is preety good as plucky Sarah. And Dan Ellis is just generally pretty damn fantastic so that almost makes up for the rest of the actors struggling to generate any real screen presence.
The script is truly awful for a large portion of the film, none of the
characters are worth caring about and it's only when the killing starts
that the movie starts to feel like a movie. Okay, I suppose you could
say the same about many low-grade slasher flicks so it's not the end of
the world. Many of the lame lines can actually be construed as amusing but the constant profanity and derogatory comments in the first half of the movie just feels like someone asked the actors to improvise before checking their vocabulary levels.
There is also the occasional, lazy mistake such as a girl grabbing a
guy round the throat with her right hand while grabbing his crotch . .
. . . . . . with her right hand. Unless there was some
body-transforming, Cronenberg-esquire stuff going on here that I wasn't
aware of then that's just impossible. These things happen.
But with a nice line in sleazy, grimy, nastiness this movie should
please those who think most horrors have nowadays become too tame
compared to "how they used to make 'em". Ryan Nicholson is a horror film-maker who makes the kind of stuff that he loves/loved as a fan and that's clear in almost every scene. Sadly, so are some of the limitations but I'm going to let my horror-loving heart overrule my head this time round and rate it accordingly.