Written/Directed by: Frank Guerrero Starring: Matt Carmondy, Neil Kubath, Ursula Taherian
In brutal form, Carver tells the story of naïve young adults that go camping in a small mountain community never to return. Even as I write this review I’m unsure how I will rate the movie at the end. First, Carver has some very positive points, which I will get to later. I will begin with what I didn’t like and what for me, kept it from being a good film.
The biggest problem I had with Carver was its blatant and excess likeness and similarity to other films (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses, Hills Have Eyes, etc.), whilst missing the opportunity to bring something, anything original. It even borrows one of the most overused touts of the last decade, “based on a true story”. This ploy is not effective anymore and only led to the setup of a film I felt I had seen a dozen times.
The characters were merely present and there was no effort made by Guerrero to make the viewer connect with them. With the exception of the brothers Pete (Matt Carmody) and Bryan (Neil Kubath) I really didn’t care if they lived or died. In general the acting was bad, even for a horror movie. I hate to admit it but there was one character’s demise I was looking forward to. Oddly in most instances, during the death scenes, the characters did not appear to be particularly concerned they were about to die. The lack of fight and will to live was one of the biggest disappointments of the movie. During one kill scene the killer hammer nails into various parts of the body while the victim just lies there, no kicking, screaming, fighting- nothing.
Since the movie borrows from so many familiar plot points there need to discuss it in length. In keeping with the horror formula, Carver enlists the annoying, prank playing best buddy and is his always half naked ditz girlfriend. When the group arrives at their campsite they meet Kate (Ursula Taherian), whom is waiting for her missing friend to return. This fact doesn’t seem to bother her too much and she decides to hang out with the group instead of further looking for her friend. The movie moves along at a slow pace and does not pick up until the group is asked to help the local bar owner with some chores on his farm. While there, they discover a collection of hidden home movies with questionable content. From there it really picks and blood and guts begin to pour. There is a “R” and unrated
version. Sometimes less is more and I think the cut scenes made it a better movie. However there is some extremely satisfying content in the unrated version and definitely worth checking out.
Let’s move onto what’s good about Carver. Many people automatically assume that bad reviews are due to a film being of low budget. I will debunk that belief right away. Carver for the most part was shot using very notable cinematography, in other words, it didn’t look low budget per say. It more than fills the blood, gore and torture quota for any die hard horror fan of this genre. Even if the gore/porn/horror style has been overused recently Carver makes good on its effort to top other such films. The killings are over the top and there are moments when they illicit genuine feelings of tension and discomfort. The killer definitely makes one feel ill at ease. That feeling may come from his mental disposition or in his ability to outsmart and out maneuver seemingly intelligent people. He is also visually very obese, well over 300 pounds, and suffers from some type of irregular gait; yet he has no trouble pursuing and killing young, healthy men and women which is very frightening. He is hardly in disguise and his natural presence would make even the toughest person a little uncomfortable. It’s beyond creepy to know that he believes his aviator cap and glasses are enough to hide who he is as he traipses around the woods pulling them on and off as if going into “kill mode”. Again goes to his mental state.
The sound is good and the use of the song “Turkey in the Straw” is very effective. Guerrero also does a solid job of not going for the cheap scares induced by sudden loud music. I would have liked to see him do his own movie and omit the blatant imitation of other’s work, even if that is the most sincere form of flattery. As a whole Carver does work, but there were many missed opportunities to bring some fresh dialogue and content to a much overdone theme. Guerrero’s movie would have been stronger if he had branched away from familiarity and took some chances with his own ideas. If you can move past the well known feel of the movie it is a decent effort from the second time director. I think he is on his way to being a very capable film maker that will do great work if he trusts himself. I’m excited to see what he brings to the table next.
By: Dead Redd