Gnaw (2011- UK)

“According to official UK statistics over 210,000 “missing person” reports are filed every year. In most cases the missing persons are found alive… but some cases can never be resolved.”

The above statement might seem pretty obvious and in no way shocking, but these words feature in the opening slates of Gnaw’s title sequence, intercut with a scantily clad lady being slowly chased through the woods by a Landrover. The above statement being “pretty obvious and in no way shocking” also nicely sums up the film; Gnaw is unchallenging, unoriginal, terribly acted and boasts one of the worst scripts every written by anyone, anywhere. My friend’s script for Gay Zombie Retards in Plaistow is better. And he’s not written it yet.

Horror film cannibals usually fall into three categories; the hyper-intelligent connoisseur sociopath (see Hannibal Lecter for details), the desperate-measures cannibal (see Alive or Ravenous) and the psychopathic flesh-ripping nutcase (a la The Hills Have Eyes). Gnaw leans heavily towards the latter, featuring a hood-wearing speechless pervert wielding a two-pronged pitchfork and a love for mincemeat human.

The plot of Gnaw is pretty simple; a group of six twenty-somethings are holidaying in a remote cottage when they run into The Slaughterman (Gary Faulkner). He takes a shine to pregnant Lorrie (Sara Dylan) but wants to eviscerate all the other party-goers and eat them, so he does. Told you the plot was simple.

So what is right about Gnaw? Tragically this particular menu is barren and tasteless. The idea behind Gnaw is solid and Gregory Mandry’s direction is occasionally impressive with some nice establishing shots. Oliver Squires provides a genuinely sympathetic and believable turn as lovelorn Matt, although he is sadly hampered by some awful dialogue. For gorehounds there is plenty of blood, but it’s unimpressive and without actual gore (but lots of the wet red stuff).

Gnaw does feature an interesting score from Mark Hill, which occasionally puts you on edge, although it often seems entirely stolen from Dario Argento’s unwanted bits. For sex-in-horror lovers there are constant touches of sexual activity, which leads to nothing, and one piece of nudity that’s so pointless it’s almost on the scale of Halle Berry’s topless flash in Swordfish. That’s all the good points, I’m afraid. Oh, and it’s 74 minutes long so at least it’s short.

So then there’s the bad. Upsettingly there is a banquet’s worth of turd to swallow in Gnaw and it’s a lumpy, nutty mess. Ultimately the overriding problem with this horror is the script. Apparently storylined and written by three people, it proves quantity does not equate to quality. The plot is pedestrian, the characters are cardboard stereotypes and the dialogue – sorry, dire-logue – is simply so unmanageably terrible even a world class director and an army of acting legends couldn’t make it work. Like a pie made of a yak’s bottom, it doesn’t matter what you do to it, it’s still a hairy arse pie.

Gnaw is not only poorly scripted, it is also really really annoying, right from the beginning! It has a pointlessly long introduction that features endless paper clippings of missing people. Yes, we understand people are going missing. It just goes on and on and on. Throughout the film the creators liberally steal from superior films such as Severance and Hostel, with lots of torture, a conveniently placed bear trap and one very suspicious pie. Even the ending is genuinely aggravating, serving us a pointlessly long epilogue that is so unsurprising it insults everyone’s intelligence. Including yours, and you’ve not seen it. And hopefully never will.

The characters are simply infuriating – they don’t speak or act like friends; their conversations are stilted and cold and feel so horribly unnatural. An Eastenders-lite pregnancy subplot makes the characters seem like nine year olds and Gnaw vomits out salmonella clichés, sloppily covering the screen in “cars not starting”, “mobiles having no signal”, “the magically teleporting bad guy” and many other wet horror stereotypes.

It’s always baffling when cannibals manage to leave fingernails or wedding rings in their prepared food – does being a cannibal automatically make you a culinary moron? Do they leave egg shells in cakes? The Oxo cube foil in the gravy? Gnaw’s cannibals are total idiots.

Gnaw is not worth sampling; it is stodgy, tasteless, bitter and difficult to digest. Not utterly appallingly terrible, but certainly of poor quality. Avoid like a bollock pie.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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