Tribeca 2019 – Review: GULLY Is An Absolute Assault On The Senses That Works


Gully is a violent film that takes no prisoners, although it has a surprising amount of depth that will leave you hopeful by the time the credits roll.
Technical Merit

Gully is very true to its name, in the sense that what’s depicted is absolutely raw emotion. With his debut feature, music video director Nabil Elderkin provides a reality bending descent into madness that heavily deals with trauma and the catharsis of processing it. Following three friends as they cause various amounts of trouble around Los Angeles, Gully is stylish, unabashedly harsh, and oddly very emotional. For this group of friends really only has each other, and their type of relationship (heinous acts aside) is one that everyone can relate to. Those who you can lean on are essential, and Gully fully shows the necessity of this.

Gully feels juvenile at times, as it simply showcases the teens causing mayhem on the streets, but it’s not without reason. Overall, this film places its three main characters in the aftermath of life altering events, all of which formed who they are. And Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Jesse, who starred in another Tribeca film, Luce, is at the crux of this relationship. For he states, “Sorrow is like treasure. You only show it to your friends”. The viewers and the trio know of each other’s past, but beyond that is a mystery. But with what is known, it’s understandable, although not justifiable, that these boys feel like they want to snap. A father chalks it up to boys being boys, but the reasoning runs much deeper than anything viewers could imagine.

Tribeca 2019 - Review: GULLY Is An Absolute Assault On The Senses That Works 1
Joyce / Amber Heard. Photographer: Chris Willard in Nabil Elderkin’s GULLY.

With chilling performances across the board, these are characters that convey a deep set pain: Harrison Jr. has piercing eyes that paint vivid pictures, and Jacob Latimore executes an erratically off-kilter attitude, while Charlie Plummer seems able to bottle up rage and implode on command. Paired with some rapper cameos and a strong supporting cast, mainly from Elderkin’s previous music videos, this is a world that feels both organic and populated, which only adds to its layering. For Elderkin’s background allows him to have an innate understanding of powerful symbolism and imagery, of which Gully has plenty. Unfortunately, this also allows for some commonplace music video tropes to seep into the film, but for a debut, that’s understandable. It still allows for a very fluid sense of storytelling, which can forgive the plain direction at times.

Gully is a literal assault on the senses in the best way imaginable. There are parties where drugs and alcohol are in excess, massive amounts of violence are on display, whether it’s in the mind of the teens or legitimate, and video games that mimic GTA and Mortal Kombat. None of these methods of escapism are healthy for the trio, yet it seems like it’s the only thing they know how to do. And while it may feel like certain actions are being glorified at times, it’s important to remember the trauma that is at the base of these actions. With that being said, Elderkin could have emphasized some of the events a bit more in order to have a better view of the trauma being drowned out. Still, it is definitely refreshing to see impactful consequences being brought down upon the world as well, instead of just delusions of grandeur for the entire runtime.

Tribeca 2019 - Review: GULLY Is An Absolute Assault On The Senses That Works 2
Mr. Christmas / Terrence Howard. Photographer: Chris Willard in Nabil Elderkin’s GULLY.

The final third makes for a great finale, as resolution comes rather quickly and unexpectedly. And the final shot is so incredibly cathartic that it rivals Climax in its release of the viewer. Because Elderkin clearly has a sense of the best ways of dealing with trauma versus temporary fixes. While it may not seem like this is the case at first, it seems evident as the film slowly becomes more and more chaotic. Gully definitely earns the emotional beats it attempts to hit, and while there may be some form of simplification, only so much can fit into such a short runtime. What is included definitely works, so a longer version of this film doesn’t seem to be a terrible idea, although there should be limits. In its more brutal moments, it could be understandably off-putting for those not prepared.

Gully is a hyperactive coming-of-age film that ticks off all the necessary marks to fit nicely into the genre. With a memorable cast and a beautiful depiction of Los Angeles, even though what’s occurring is quite the opposite of beautiful, it plants its feet firmly on the ground. It’s both striking and brash, and for a debut, Elderkin seems to know what he’s doing. With more features under his belt, it seems he will be a bold new voice in filmmaking, and one that will clearly remember his filmmaking roots if this film is any indication.

Gully celebrated its world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and is part of the U.S. Narrative Competition section.


AXIOS On HBO: Dara Khosrowshahi on Saudi Arabia (Season 2 Episode 8 Clip) | HBO

The Uber CEO discusses his decision to stay out of Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamaal Khashoggi with Axios co-founder Mike Allen and AXIOS business editor Dan Primack. #HBO #AxiosOnHBO Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: Known for delivering news, coverage, and insight with a distinctive brand of smart brevity, Axios on HBO…

These Consumer Goods Come At A Price | Broken Trailer | Netflix

Broken is a new investigative documentary series that identifies and deconstructs the systems that make consumer products vulnerable to fraud, corruption, and negligence - often at the expense of public health and safety. The series uncovers the truth behind the consumer price of the vaping industry, counterfeit cosmetics, plastics and fast furniture. Watch Broken, only…

Legacies | Season 2 Episode 6 | That’s Nothing I Had To Remember Promo | The CW

Stream new episodes of Legacies Fridays, free only on The CW App: SUBSCRIBE: About LEGACIES: The show centers around Hope Mikaelson, the vampire-witch-werewolf hybrid daughter of Hayley Marshall-Kenner and Klaus Mikaelson, and her time at a school for the supernatural called The Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted. Connect with LEGACIES online:…

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia | Season 14 Ep. 8: Dee Eats The Egg Highlight | FXX

You would think a bird could tell a good egg from a bad egg. Subscribe now for more It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia clips: In the 14th Season of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the Gang goes to extremes. Mac learns a new language, Charlie does a period piece, Dennis attempts a one-act play,…

Supernatural | Season 15 Episode 4 | Atomic Monsters Scene | The CW

Stream new episodes of Supernatural Fridays, free only on The CW App: SUBSCRIBE: About SUPERNATURAL: The thrilling and terrifying journey of the Winchester brothers continues as SUPERNATURAL enters its thirteenth season. Sam and Dean have spent their lives on the road, battling supernatural threats that include everything from the demon that killed their…

All American | First Five | Season Trailer | The CW

Stream the first five episodes of All American, free only on The CW App: SUBSCRIBE: About All American: When a rising high school football player from South L.A. is recruited to play for Beverly Hills High, the wins, losses and struggles of two families from vastly different worlds - Crenshaw and Beverly Hills…

The Simpsons | Season 1 Ep. 4: Electrifying Highlight | FXX

The Simpsons go to electroshock therapy. Subscribe now for more The Simpsons clips: THE SIMPSONS continues to strike a chord with viewers for irreverently poking fun at anything and everything. As the longest-running scripted series in television history, THE SIMPSONS has become one of the most consistently groundbreaking, innovative and recognizable entertainment franchises throughout…

Mayans M.C. | Season 2 Ep. 10: Potter Call Highlight | FX

Angel's son locked away for the crimes of his parents #MayansFX Subscribe now for more Mayans M.C. clips: Mayans M.C. is the next chapter in the Sons of Anarchy saga. Set in a post-Jax Teller world, EZ Reyes is a prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter on the Cali/Mexi border. Once the golden boy…
Alex Papaioannou
Alex Papaioannou
Born and raised in New York. I've always loved all things pop culture, but my true passion lies within film. And the only thing that I love more than watching movies is writing about them! Some close runner-ups are: food, the Yankees, and hip-hop.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here