Gutterballs (2008) Review
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The spoiler is very minor-- I discuss an early scene in detail and other stuff in a very vague manner.
Gutterballs is an odd and unsettling movie, especially in the uncut edition that I saw.
Like Irreversible, Gutterballs subverts expectations by giving you a much worse version of what it advertises...a very, very unpleasant and nasty rape sequence that left me unsettled for the remainder of the viewing experience and not ever able to engage at the level of "enjoying" the piece. I believe this is by design and not actually a flaw. Unlike Irreversible, the shot selection of the heinous act alternates between empathizing with the victim (unflattering close ups of the bad guys) and exploitation of the victim (overhead shots of the victim as an object), which gives the movie an odious taint. Again, this seems by design.
After this very unpleasant sequence, the movies depicts loads of mean, dumb and hateful teens, all of whom give over the top performances, though not all of these performances are bad. Several of these histrionic performances are in keeping with the hateful tone of the movie, especially the main bad guys, who were like amped-up versions of the bullies in "History of Violence." They are not at all realistic, yet in this stylized world they are believably malefic. This is one of the reasons the rape sequence is so unsettling-- I completely believe that these guys are capable of doing this even if everything is pushed into cursing caricature.
It's surprising to me how often people refer to this movie as "fun." Although it has a retro slasher facade, the heart of this movie is mean hate and covered with thorns.
If the humor was ever funny in Gutterballs (I laughed more watching August Underground) or if any of the characters were likable, Gutterballs would have been an emotionally richer experience, and a better movie, rather than a monotonously mean one. If the revenge element were logically motivated throughout the piece, I might have engaged at that level of feeling some satisfaction/gratification with the crimes when they are committed, but that is not the path Ryan Nicholson hews with his machete.
As is, Gutterballs is suxxxesful as a piece of hateful exploitation, showcasing some expert gore, but is a monochromatic viewing experience