Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
Scott W. McKinlay
Scott W. McKinlay
What's it about
A few thieves stumble into a Hollywood Hills home with the intention of making off with a stash of loot inside. Unfortunately for them, thereís a whole bunch of weird shit going down, and they are about to become the victims of a sick killer with a love of sadistic torture (what else?).
Is it good movie?
GAG is a carbon copy of SAW and it pretty much admits that from the start. The dvd cover art, the torture plot, and even the title (both have three letters.... coincidence?!?) seem terribly familiar. I wasnít a big fan of this newly revamped ďhardcore horrorĒ genre from the get-go. The first two SAW films were pretty slick (not so much the third... havenít bothered with the fourth), but the inevitable string of imitators that followed that franchise have mostly been completely horrible. GAG is a cheapie of the genre, and although it has a few amusing (if totally predictable, not to mention ludicrous) twists, itís not really creative at all with its torturous bloodletting. Instead itís mostly amateurish and unpleasant.
The movie opens with friends Detroit (Scott W. McKinlay, also the producer and director of the film) and Tony (Vince Marinelli), breaking into the previously mentioned Hollywood Hills mansion and coming upon a man tied to a bed (and yes, gagged) in one of the dank rooms in a guesthouse out back. They discuss the options of untying the man, or getting the loot and getting the hell out of there, or just simply getting the hell out of there due to the fact that it seems to be the home of a very fucked-up individual . By then, itís too late, another man springs on them and they find themselves knocked out, tied... and gagged... and awaiting whatever horrible fate awaits them.
I can understand the appeal of a premise involving two criminals robbing the wrong house and having the tables turned on them by a psycho killer. Unfortunately, GAG isnít really concerned with the dynamics of the situation, merely the various ways in which people can be restrained and graphically tortured. There is one scene that sticks out for being especially nasty, and that is when one of the victims holed up in the house is violated by a sharpened-off broom handle in such a way that would make Eli Roth run screaming into another room. GAG goes from one torture device to the next thinking itís being as twisted and clever as SAW. But not only does it lack the production value of that film (the picture is grainy and boring), but it is also missing the philosophical subtext that at least gave the Jigsaw Killer a reason to exist. Or maybe Iím giving SAW too much credit here? Whatever, I can tell you itís a superior film to GAG, in which people suffer for no other reason besides the fact that they are pawns in yet another uninspired ďgameĒ cooked up by generic psycho killer #142.
Most of the acting in GAG is just plain bad, suffering from clumsy line delivery and over-the-top theatricality. I donít want to reveal much about the killer (at the risk of spoiling whatever value you might get out of this), except to says he is really, really lame. Not this dudeís finest acting hour, I hope. At times it seems to be aiming for black comedy, but GAG surely never succeeds in scaring the audience, or even surprising them. McKinlayís direction is sloppy and the whole thing feels truly cheap.
Video / Audio
Video 4x3 Full Screen Presentation
Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0, with optional English and Spanish subtitles
Commentary with actor/producer/director Scott W. McKinlay and actor/producer Vince Marinelli Turns out GAG took four years to get financed and made, and only because of the persistence of these two guys, who deliver a commentary track and sound like they really had a fun time making this picture. There is absolutely no dead space between the two as they laugh and reminisce, obviously excited about the fact they got to make a movie. Iím sorry to say I donít think any of this translated to an entertaining movie, but they got their movie made, and thatís saying something.
Two Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending (what the heck was that?)
Behind the Scenes of Gag Running just over six minutes, itís mostly interview footage with McKinlay talking about how the film came together. Pretty straightforward.
Also: an Exclusive Gag Music Video by Harley Krishna, Photo Gallery and the filmís Trailer.
If you enjoy sadistic torture scenes then you might find GAG to be a real hoot. With the quality of acting and scripting here, the movie others absolutely nothing else that might attract your interest.... aside from maybe the commentary track, which is more worthwhile than the movie.