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RELEASED: 2008, Cert. 18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 97 mins
DIRECTOR/ SCREENPLAY: Frank Guerrero Jr.
PRODUCER: Richard Finney & 4 others, including Frank Guerrero Jr.
MUSIC: Christian Szczesniak
Matt Carmody as Pete
Jonathan Rockett as Zack
Ursula Taherian as Kate
David G Holland as Billy Hall Carver
Erik Fones as Bobby Shaw Carver
FILM ONLY REVIEW
A group of young people decide to get away from it all and go on a camping holiday in the backwoods.
On arriving at a remote roadhouse type of place where the bartender is decidedly odd and having drink with him, the group decides to move on to try and find their campsite. The creepy bartender asks if they'll help him clear up his outhouse close by, offering them a reward of free drinks for the whole of the evening, and he introduces the young people to his equally strange brother.
When the group, after reluctantly agreeing to assist the bartender, enters the outhouse, they stumble across a cabinet full of Super 8 movie material and out of curiosity, they play one of the films which turns out to be an extremely nasty, violent scene of torture and murder. Initially the group assumes this film is no more than a gross porn movie, but on leaving the outhouse and making their way to the campsite, they find evidence that the film they've just seen is for real, being part of a collection of grisly murders which have actually been committed.
The opening credits of Carver state that it is based on a true story, yet what follows makes one wonder how close to real events it actually sticks to, or if it is an accurate portrayal, has society become too sick for words?
The atmosphere right from the first frame is set perfectly, showing the torture and brutal slasher-style murder of a young girl, performed to an auditory backdrop of otherwise innocent-sounding redneck music. It is the matter-of-factness of the way the at that point unseen killer carries out his grisly tasks, coupled with the rather jolly-sounding borderline blue-grass record spinning around on the record player which makes it so very sinister.
That first scene is short, with the film then launching into the main storyline....and, I was gripped straight away.
There is a skin-crawling, edge of your seat disturbing atmosphere throughout Carver, especially during the first forty or so minutes of the film. The Carver brothers are a very unnerving double act, and I can honestly say that if I encountered them on a tour through what (going by the flora and fauna) appears to be the southern states of America - or perhaps somewhere like one of the Virginias - I'd flee from that roadhouse like a bat out of hell in the opposite direction.
The acting in Carver is pretty good....by no means up to shiny award standard, but convincing, especially that of David G Holland and Erik Fones who play the Carver brothers. They certainly played their parts with a creepy and disturbing finesse which made me feel quite crawly and spooked, even sitting in the safety of my own living room....and, I'm not someone who is easily unnerved. What was so jarring about these brothers was the realisation that in real life and in some of the less socially developed parts of the USA, people this worrying really do exist.
There were a couple of things which I found a bit irritating about Carver, the first being the music which although good and very suited to the overall sinister atmosphere, it is far too loud and it distracted me somewhat from the events taking place on screen. There is nothing wrong with this film score as it is ideal - merely that it is out of balance and needs to be pushed into the background a bit more. It is very avant-garde orchestral (possibly some of it being synthesised) music, heavy on percussion and creepy-sounding in itself, even without what is happening in the film. I did raise a little smile when the final credits went up, as the play-out song is very much of a soft jazz, lounge music style. The other thing which frustrated me somewhat is that, especially towards the end of the film, some of the scenes are shot in darkness and it thus is difficult to work out exactly what is happening at those points.
The violence in Carver really is extreme, using some very good special effects to convey all the blood and gore, and I found it very disturbing to watch. There is one particular scene where I just had to shift my eyes away from the screen, because it is so well done...and, it isn't just the way what was happening is presented....my levels of squeamishness were bombarded by what the killer was actually doing to somebody.
I ought to warn anybody with a vomit phobia who is maybe contemplating watching Carver. There is a particularly horrible throwing-up scene which isn't part of the gore and violence as it is merely a result of somebody having had too much to drink, but the way it is portrayed is very - and I mean VERY - realistic.
There are some other disgusting things, like the toilets in the roadhouse being utterly putrid....I won't be too graphic in my description just in case any of you are eating your dinner or similar whilst reading this review, but if you are that curious, you can always watch the film yourself. In some ways, the state of the toilets and the vomiting scene (mentioned in the last paragraph) are almost as gut-churning as the slasher-type violence which rampages through most of the film.
One or two loose ends in the storyline didn't quite get tied up, but I don't think it really matters, as by the time I'd finished watching, my mind had been blown from one end of the gore and horror universe to the other. It is difficult to say whether the extreme violence in Carver is done just for the sake of sensationalism, or whether it is an accurate as dammit portrayal of what really happened when this allegedly true life event took place....but, I do think that the direction and production team have deliberately set out to shock - and, at least with me, such succeeded. I was able to immediately bring myself down to earth after hearing the music which the closing credits is played to, and I am left wondering if such was deliberately chosen as the final part of the musical score for that very reason, like a cherry on the cake sweetener to smooth and ease viewers gently down into the comparative safety and normality of their own world.
When the violence in Carver really gets underway, it does appear to go rather over the top, with very little else happening other than people being attacked with saws, knives, hammers and other instruments which can cause serious injury.....but, the overall atmosphere running throughout is tense, sinister, evil, and leaves a nasty taste in your mouth.
From all that I've said above, it seems perhaps as though I didn't like Carver, but I did, especially the first part of the film when the atmosphere was set so well, that I felt I could almost slice it in two. It would have been a lot better I feel to expand on the storyline, alternating different events with the scenes of violence and torture, as it all became very same-ish after a while.
If you are a fan of extremely bloody slasher-type horror films, then this could be something you'd manage to stomach, but I consider it possible that even the toughest constitution may find the violence in Carver difficult to take. It is a film which certainly lives up to its name!
In summary, Carver is a highly atmospheric, gripping, disgusting film to watch, that if really true to the actual events it is based on, is incredibly disturbing....but, in a grimly fiendish, strange sort of way, I quite enjoyed it. However, I would worry if a DVD copy of this film got into the wrong hands and was seen by minors or somebody whose sanity is, aggression-wise, hanging in the balance.
Over and out...I am now going to watch something warm, snuggly and fluffy on YouTube to regain my equilibrium!
At the time of writing, Carver can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: only one copy currently available @ £34.99
Used: from £7.87 to £11.98
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Carver is a slash and stalk film about a fat particularly sadistic killer who likes to film his victims as they die usually via sledgehammer. Typical of the genre a good looking bunch of young adults camp out in the woods, which is literally the killers back yard. There are no surprises in the plot, as they are brutally hacked and beaten to death one by one. The twist at the end you will see coming before the opening credits, but just in case you didn't a whole scene is devoted to explaining it, just in case you woke up.
I'm not sure what the true story is that Carver is based upon, probably that of Ed Gein which is the source material of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which Carver attempts but fails miserably to emulate. Although there are some extremely (possibly unnecessarily) sadistic murders in this film there is nothing in it to raise it above other recent entries in the non genre of torture porn.
The main problem with the film is its length, at 97 minutes it is at least 15 minutes too long due to considerable and superfluous character development in the first 30 minutes. As well as being boring it is doubly unsuccessful as it fails to cause the viewer to care for any of the characters. Hot on the heels of boredom, irritation and frustration soon follow as a result of many scenes being underlit and poorly edited.
In response to comments on IMDB, this film is neither a classic nor urban as it is set entirely in the countryside. In addition there is nothing Tarantino about the direction the only such connection being QT's executive "producer" credit on the equally boring and amateurish Hostel films.
I'm really not quite sure where I stand on the movie Carver, its either pretty good or diabolically awful, I'm caught some way in the midsection on this one.
Made on a ridiculously tight budget Carver follows the adventures of five young sexy people as they stop off in a rural location while enjoying some "away" time from the rest of the world. After speaking to a creepy bartender in a roadside bar, they volunteer to go to his isolated shack to carry out an errand. Rather than just doing as they are asked however they decide to break some locks and examine his collection of home 8mm footage. Believing that they are watching some low budget horror movie (rather like the one they are appearing in), they are appalled at the violent deaths that feature in the film. But as they get away from the shack it becomes apparent all too much for one of the travellers that they have entered the realms of a real life movie and that if they do not escape soon, they will be the movies next victims.
Carver is absolutely disgusting to watch, from vile looking toilets filled with faeces, maggots and worms, to an exploding testicle bought on by "The Carver's" unique use of a monkey wrench. It's all a little too intimate for most movie fans liking, which is both its strength and its downfall. While some like to see that little bit more, I'm not too sure that we wanted to see quite that much.
What I did like about the movie in general was the storyline; it was pretty good; the idea of these kids violating someone's personal space provides the ultimate an eye for an eye question. I mean personally, if you're asked to do someone a favour because they need help or to trust someone, if you violate that space you get everything you deserve. While there is the other train of thought that tells you when a building or location has bad vibes that you just might want to look a little deeper into the heart of the issue. Good and bad aside amid the strength of the story there is also great weakness, and most specifically the movies director/writer Franklin Guerrero Jr. Thinks that the story is cleverer than it actually is, the ending of the movie specifically that in his insular world he believes to be a great revelation, the most unfamiliar horror movie viewers will have spotted from the movies offset, it's first ten minutes in fact. I do not understand why the director believed that nobody would suspect what is fundamentally obvious.
Of the cast there is nobody here worth really discussing; to be honest with you they are all fairly average actors working on a low budget movie, the most likable of which Neil Kubath who plays Bryan does overshadow the others quite considerably. The leading man and lady really don't have it in them to shine, and given the weaker elements of the story are in a place that for them there is nowhere to go.
The movie despite it's good elements, especially a rather tense series of assaults in the basement of the shack, goes in some really stupid ground. There is a bizarre wedding dress incident that is not explained though clearly was designed to point somewhere, and a really ridiculous and drastically unneeded suicide which is in fact one of the most nonsensical things I have seen in a movie for a considerable time.
When it comes to Carver there are so many hits and misses that it is incredibly hard to access the movie fairly, the best suggestion I have is that if you're a fan of horror, give it a swing, you might love it, you might hate it; this is very much a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, but personally I'm closing one eye on this one.
Carver is available now on a feature free DVD.