Year: 2008
Director: Ryan Nicholson
Cast: Alastair Gamble, Nathan Dashwood, Candice Lewald, Nathan White, Mihola Terzic

Ryan Nicholson obviously had no intentions for Gutterballs to be a serious horror film and it is interesting that some reviewers don't see this. Being a HUGE horror film fan, I quickly recognized what I was in store for from the first five minutes of the film. It is pure exploitation/80's-slasher homage through and through. Characterization is not a priority. Having a solid, thought-provoking plot is not a priority. Having decent acting is not a priority. And most importantly, having much about the film make all that much sense is not a priority. The priority is to get a bunch of people in a creative location and have them be butchered by a masked killer on by one. It's that simple. "Friday the 13th," "Intruder," and "The Slumber Party Massacre," all classic 80's slashers film followed this same formula and obviously "Gutterballs" was meant to transport horror fans back to the simpler days of the slasher film.

With that said, I understand the divisiveness this film is causing among horror fans. You will either love or hate it. Personally, I lean toward the loving it side because it has been quite some time since I have seen a horror movie that takes such a care-free "fu** it" attitude and is not afraid nor apologetic for being a pure slasher film where plot and high production values are not the concern. Yet, it is still difficult for me to proclaim my extreme like for a film that contains such brutality and sexual violence. But guess what? I am going to anyway....I think Gutterballs was a great film and had a blast watching it. Should I go to confessional now?

The plot is simple and deals with a bunch of annoying members of rival bowling teams, including a Tranny, who get into a confrontation one evening. This leads to some punches being thrown, and in an attempt to save her friend from having his ass kicked, the resident girl who goes without panties drops a bowling ball on her rival's foot. He is none to pleased with this, but it does break up the fight. As the girl leaves with her friends, she realizes she forgot her purse. She goes back into the now isolated alley to retrieve it, only to me met and BRUTALLY raped by her rival and his buddies as revenge for crushing his foot. The next night, the teams return to have a bowling competition when a mysterious killer begins killing them in sadistic and gory ways.

First, there is the rape scene, which, as mentioned in almost every review is extremely graphic and extremely long. It seriously has to be one of the most disturbing and graphic rape scenes since Irreversible, and it just doesn't seem to end. I know this scene is highly criticized for being TOO graphic, but in the scheme of the film, particularly the ending when we discover the killer(s), etc..I think it is quite effective. A brutal rape requires brutal retribution. The extreme brutality of the murders themselves would seem less "deserved" if the viewer hadn't been witness to just what the rape victim experienced. Because we do see the vicious rape in detail, we are able to justify and actually rejoice when the perpetrators meet there gory deaths. The problem, though, is that some of the more brutal deaths are reserved for characters who had nothing do with the rape, which puzzled me. I guess, though, it demonstrates just how much of a emotional and psychological effect the rape had on those involved.

The film feels cheap and grainy, but that works in its favor. It definitely creates the whole DTV 80's feel to it, as the lighting is used effectively to create an uneasy and "dirty" feeling. The acting is pretty bad, the dialogue nothing but expletives, and the first main death scene unrealistic and ridiculous. Luckily, they get better. The characters themselves are all pretty stupid and we really don't care for any of them. One thing I kept wondering is why, when it was perfectly clear that nobody else was bowling in the alley, that they all thought "BBK" was another player? You see, each time the killer killed a victim, he put a little skull on the scoreboard next to his name. All the characters dismissed this as another player, even though they were the only ones in the alley. There is also no heroine that we can root for, which was a staple of the 80's slasher film. Sure, there is a survivor, but she is a character who probably has the least amount of dialogue and development in the whole film.

The highlight of the film, though, is the gore. Blood is unleashed by the bucketfuls and there are some of the most brutally realistic death scenes I have seen in quite some time. The camera never flinches away as we are exposed to impalement's, genital mutilation, heads in bowling bowl cleaners, bowling pin penetration and much much more. It, perhaps, is gore for gore's sake, but it is extremely well done and effective.

Again, this is definitely a love it or hate it film. It was never meant to be taken seriously, but is still a roller coaster ride of a film and you can certainly say that you don't or won't find many horror films like this nowadays.

Fright Meter Grade:

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