Carver (2008)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #266

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Number of Views: One
Release Date: March 4, 2008
Sub-Genre: Backwoods Slasher/Exploitation
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 97 minutes
Director: Franklin Guerrero Jr.
Screenplay: Franklin Guerrero Jr.
Producers: Franklin Guerrero Jr., Eric Williford
Special Effects: Paul Goldblatt
Visual Effects: Martin Mayer, Thom Randmaa
Cinematography: Ryan Bedell
Score: Paul E. Jessen, Matt Baxter
Editing: Shochun Ampekennerali
Studios: Finney/Thompson Entertainment, Two For Flinching Pictures
Distributors: Allumination Filmworks, TLA Releasing
Stars: Natasha Charles Parker, Erik Fones, Matt Carmody, Neil Kubath, David G. Holland, Jonathan Rockett, Kristyn Green, Luke Vitale, Ursula Taherian, Savannah Costello, Leslie Anne Valenza, Kilby O’Rourke, Paul Goldblatt, Alexander Demah

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Suggested Audio Candy:

Paul Webster Turkey in The Straw

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It boggles the mind why on Earth anyone in their right mind would wish to take a road trip across America. I blame Forrest Gump, the bearded enigma may well have jogged around the perimeter relatively unscathed but I’m fairly assured that he didn’t deviate from the beaten track. Should he have done so, then I’m sure his ping-pong expertise would’ve been wasted on Leatherface and co. It’s like a tick for handsome co-eds. Instead of partaking in a harmless pajama party back at the dorm they take it upon themselves to ‘live a little’ and take in the country air. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a testicle. Franklin Guerrero Jr.’s Carver is living proof that PJs and marshmallow fluff is the way to go.

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If I were marking purely based on originality then this film would score somewhat lowly. Guerrero has watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then Hostel, and fused the two together but, while it’s hardly an ingenious plan on his part, it manages to tick a rather hefty box for Keeper. You see, it is my belief that handsome co-eds are better for nothing more than carving up viciously and, with a name like Carver, that’s a given. There’s nothing to test the grey matter but everything to test your stomach lining as grue is the order of the day and it is served up by the shitload…literally! More on that later.

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Any back story here is superfluous to proceedings and instead we are served up a home-baked delight which pulls no punches and instead focuses on grimaces. We know as much by the end of the stylishly shot grindhouse title sequence where our first lemming is put to task in the most hideous of fashions. More of that please. In truth, we are made to wait nearly an hour before the shit hits the pan and that leaves us with some fairly uninspired, though never obnoxious, filler. The stereotypes are present and correct although, to the film’s credit, the survivors aren’t earmarked in advance and Carver knows how to throw a ferret amongst the livestock.

"Based on actual events"

Time for a little synopsis and I could pretty much cut and paste this whole paragraph from countless other backwoods slasher films of its ilk. I shall do no such thing of course as that would be cheating and I don’t fancy feeling Grandpa’s hammer resting against my crown as I enjoy my last supper. It’s about five handsome co-eds who decide to go camping in Halcyon Ridge and get more than they bargained for than hand-jobs and Jaeger bombs. Needless to say, all the locals seem to be in on the act and, one in particular, takes exception to the teens. Clad in goggles and looking akin to a big-boned Biggles, he carries out horrific mutilations on his victims and records it all on 8mm film reels to watch later. This adds a whole new level of wrong to proceedings.

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As the five dust off the projector and sit down to watch some of these ‘home movies’ the five are convinced it is nothing more than a low-budget horror flick. This despite the fact that one of the victims has their head sawed off with absolutely no cutaway. If I were picking fault at this point then I would have to question the fact that none of them question the content and the group merrily sit through two or three of these sickening show reels before the penny finally drops. However, picking holes is not a pastime I partake in when the film involved is little more than a low rent slasher so all is swiftly forgiven on this count.

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From a technical standpoint, Guerrero does a pretty decent job and his directorial style shows great promise. In addition, the performances from our babes in the wood are fairly credible, especially when the blood starts to flow. And it does. There are all manner of grisly dispatches, none more horrifying than when one of the campers meets a most heinous end in a shit-soaked outhouse. If there is one kill which stands out then it would have to be this horrific demise via a pair of antiquated pliers which involves one of his testicles. After having the contents of the latrine dumped on his face and the basin dropped on his ankles, the nutcracker suite entails and this is a moment to have all men clutching their bean bags for dear life.

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Carver may not be the most ingenious of genre flicks and there is little here that we haven’t seen numerous times before and often executed better. However, it does what it sets out to from the offset and makes up for what it lacks in smarts with lashings of well-realized grue and slow burning tension. It won’t win any awards for execution but neither will it offend those looking for some base level splatter as gorehounds will likely revel in the atrocities performed on our want-away campers. It’s not rocket science, just a good-old fashioned exploitation flick with more than ample gristle on exhibit to guarantee that a good time is had by all. Yee-Haw!

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Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10

Grue Factor: 4/5

 

For the Grue-Guzzlers: Will have men squirming in their seats as that hairy ball is busted wide open right up to the money shot where CGI makes an unwelcome appearance. Thankfully, Guerrero resists overusing this effect and the rest of the movie is practical splatter all the way. Heads are removed, sledgehammers plundered into pulpy faces, rusty nails rammed into craniums and there’s enough of the red stuff to sicken and delight in equal measures. If that is what you came for then you won’t be leaving disappointed. One thing’s for damned sure, you will want to be avoiding that outhouse next time you’re off the beaten track and just shit in the woods like the bear does.

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Read The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Appraisal

Read The Hills Run Red Appraisal

Read Wrong Turn Appraisal

Read Wrong Turn 2: Dead End Appraisal

 

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