Carver (2008)

Ahhh, I do love me some good indy horror. Supposedly based on a true story, Carver comes to us from the mind of second time director Franklin Guerrero Jr. It’s a (somewhat) different take on the whole poorly named “torture porn” sub-genre. The differences here are pretty cool, but in the end, it’s the terrible third act that drags this promising film into the middling morass.

If you’ve seen one of these types of movie, you’ve pretty much seen them all. If I say campers, lost in the woods and red neck country folks, I’m sure most people will be able to fill in the blanks. That’s not a bad thing. The template films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Last House On the Left” established works. The same parallels can be made in any genre of films. You can trace the lineage of Beowulf through Lord Of the Rings to Star Wars. Ninety Nine percent of all romantic comedies have essentially the same plot. What matters is how you work within those set parameters. What a filmmaker or writer brings to the table in terms of originality determines if you have made something entertaining and worth watching (Wrong Turn) or something that is just plain awful (Captivity).

Carver has some pretty cool originality going for it. The idea that the killers are filming their crimes and keeping them for posterity is a different spin on the idea that killers always keep a “prize” from their victims. I really enjoyed the fact that the characters were given a good 40 to 45 minutes to establish themselves before they get knocked off. They are still essentially one note stereotypes (the slut, the douche, the emo kid, the hero…etc) but at least that one note is more interesting than your normal slasher type horror film. I could do without the seemingly unending dirty bathroom sets, but that’s just a personal preference.

The other thing that Carver has going for it is the gore. For an independently produced horror film obviously made on the cheap, the blood sure does flow. It takes a while, a good 45 minutes before all hell breaks loose, but when it does, it’s well worth it for any gore hounds out there. But it’s not just the amount of red stuff, it’s the way the killer gets there that’s pretty cool as well. The killer isn’t just a paint by numbers killer, he’s pretty original in the ways he takes out group down.

But it’s not all wine and roses with Carver. Like most small indy films, the budget limitations are obvious, especially in the last reel of the film, which has more false endings than “The Return Of The King.” It seemed like (director) Guerrero decided halfway though filming that there needed to be more killing. Some characters who we’ve seen get killed much earlier in the film reappear alive for no reason, one even survives a gunshot wound from point blank range with no explanation. It’s unfortunate because up until the last twenty minutes or so of the film where everything seems to fall apart Carver holds up pretty well.

The first hour or so is pretty good. If you can ignore the plot completely falling apart in the last twenty minutes and lose yourself in the gore, you might enjoy this a little more than I did. I just can’t seem to wash the last few minutes of the film out of my mouth.

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