Gnaw reveals its torture-porn aspirations before the opening credits have even started rolling. Start with a jerky-cam sequence featuring a dirty, nightie-clad girl, panting as she runs barefoot through the forest. Then her inevitable capture by a mysterious figure pursuing in a big oily truck. And of course, a super gory torture scene staged in a grimy basement, in which the girl screams and wails until she dies, just to let the audience know that this movie means business. Roll opening credits. And you’ve got yourself some torture-porn.
Not to be confused with the sequel to Food of the Gods (har), Gnaw takes a handful of horny, indistinguishable British 20-somethings and throws them into a secluded mansion to flirt, fuck, and babble about bullshit, all while a bunch of POV shots accompanied by heavy breathing watch their every move. Even at a scant 76 minutes, Gnaw manages to squander its first two acts on fake scares and some truly godawful relationship dialogue. [Bloke #1: “You fancy her, don’t you?” Bloke #2: “No.” Bloke #1: “Bollocks!”] When the friends discover a dinner table laden with all manner of pastries and meat pies, it’s easy to see where Gnaw is headed. But Jesus, it sure does take its sweet time getting there.
Finally (finally!) a couple of the friends go out exploring on their own, and the lurking voyeur, a stubble-headed hillbilly cannibal who’s been silently watching the action for about 45 minutes now, finally gets his ass into gear. Working with a limited weapons arsenal (bear traps and a man-sized BBQ fork) and occasionally dressing up in a hooded cape and fur mask, the hillbilly methodically whacks the British buddies one-by-one in a series of rote, tedious death scenes. No spoiler alert necessary. You know how this movie begins. You know how it ends. You’ve seen it before. We’ve all seen it before.
Gnaw isn’t completely inept. Admittedly, it’s mostly in focus. A couple of the violent set-pieces are an admirably gory mess, enhanced by a syrupy, chunky red-black blood that looked like it was a bitch to work with. But Gnaw lacks tension. And wit. And scares. It’s cookie-cutter torture-porn, as generic as a white-labeled can of creamed corn.