Directed by Ryan Nicholson
Written by Ryan Nicholson
Starring Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Witte, Wade Gibb, Candice Lewald, Jeremy Beland, Trevor Gemma, Nathan Dashwood, Scott Alonzo, Jimmy Blais, Danielle Munro, Stephanie Schacter, Saraphina Bardeaux, Dan Ellis, Brandon Dix
Those who love to watch over the top gore will be the target audience for GUTTERBALLS, a film released over a decade ago, but is finding new life with its Blu-ray release. The film is a retro-horror paying homage to the slasher films of the eighties, but a lot of GUTTERBALLS hasn’t aged well.
GUTTERBALLS is a single location film taking place inside a retro-bowling alley and follows the antics of two rival bowling teams made up of twenty-somethings playing teenagers. After a brawl that leads to both teams being kicked out of the lanes for the night, Lisa (Candice Lewald) is cornered by a group of guys from the opposing team and gang raped a la THE ACCUSED on a pinball machine. The next night, both teams show up, including Lisa, and while the two teams play their championship game, someone wearing a bowling ball bag as a mask is killing the bowlers one by one.</br
GUTERBALLS is an ugly movie, full stop. Not only is Lisa’s rape prolonged and focused on for an excruciating amount of time, but the cast also spouts homophobic banter as effortlessly as breathing and assaults a trans person on top of assaulting Lisa. While this film is supposed to be a throwback to a “simpler” time, the misogynistic and homophobic lines would be a rough pill to swallow even in that less tolerant time. I’m not the sensitive type, but GUTTERBALLS takes the hate a mile too far even for me. Even before the opening credits roll, there are more assaults, rapes, and verbal barbs than I’ve ever witnessed. This sets the tone for an extremely dark, dank, and grotesque film that really takes things beyond the point of entertainment and into something truly tasteless and something I think will offend most who watch it.
I get it that the team of dudes that rape Lisa are supposed to be the bad guys, but really, there are no likable characters here. The camera focuses on the worst characters and the rest sort of just melt into the background. The lead douchebag (Alastair Gamble) is supposed to be despicable, but his acting is so over the top and filled with rage, he is almost unwatchable as he treats everyone around him like shit. Who would want to hang around this guy? Constantly screaming, spitting, and swearing, Gamble might have been a decent villain if he chugged one Monster drink less during filming, but his spastic performance is one of many despicable characters in the film. I get that we are supposed to hate the rapists and hope for them to die, but the extent the filmmaker went to make this guy despicable is a bridge too far. Even members of Lisa’s own team spout the hate, homophobia, and misogyny freely. There are supposed to be two redeemable characters who end up being the final two alive to battle the unmasked killer, but they hardly have any screen time. It’s as if Filmmaker Ryan Nicholson had no interest in developing characters to empathize and root for and was solely focused on these utterly despicable people.
What GUTTERBALLS has going for it is some absolutely gruesome horror practical effects. The deaths are equally tasteless and gross, but well done. Blood spatters everywhere and there isn’t a bowling tool, machine, or paraphernalia that isn’t made into some kind of killing tool for our murderer. Hats off to the effects guys of this film. They really go above and beyond making this one of the gorier slashers in recent memory.
I can take a dumpster full of blood and guts any old day, but fill your movie with rape, sexual harassment, homophobic assault, mistreatment of any and all humans, and utter ignorance, and I guess I’m a little wuss. I understand the eighties weren’t the most tolerant of eras in terms of equal rights and LGBTQ+ treatment and language. But despite the gore, I found it very hard to watch GUTTERBALLS. I’m not judging. If you can stand it. Good for you. But I doubt I’ll be revisiting this one ever again and as soon as this review is done, I hope I never have to think about it again.