Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Kristyn Green, Matt Carmody, Luke Vitale, Savannah Costelllo
Directed by Franklin Guerrero, Jr.
Distributed by Allumination Filmworks
Sixty-five. Give or take, that's around the number of torture porn type films I've sat through since 2006. Some have been bad. Some good. Some I've just tried to block from my memory. It's to the point that every time I see a woman bound to a chair in a poorly lit room, I become instantly bored. But hey, it's my job to subject myself to this. Over the past several months there have been many times when I felt like I was the one bound to said chair and tortured for ninety minutes at a time. When I popped in Carver, I expected the worst. What I didn't expect was a trip down some of the most visceral and darkest roads of the imagination.
I must admit that the box alone had me curious. The cover art was badass, but it was the back cover that really caught my eye. And I quote -- "See what everyone is calling the most horrific scene in horror film history! A real ball-cruncher that is guaranteed to make everyone cringe!" My first thought was, "Well, who the hell is 'everyone'?" My second was, "I am so there!"
The story is simple enough and loosely based upon true events. Five friends on a camping trip accept the offer of a local barkeep to help him haul some supplies to his establishment from his stockyard. What would they get in exchange? A night of free flowing booze! What horny twenty-something could resist? While there -- of course -- the kids decide to check out some things that they shouldn't be messing with. Things like a chest full of home movies and a projector. After getting a little freaked out and, yes, finally getting their drink on, our protagonists head back to their campsite. Little do they know the local Carver family have singled them out to be the stars of their next movie.
We've seen this kind of setup countless times, but that doesn't stop director Franklin Guerrero, Jr. from making something memorable out of the mundane.
There's a combination of things that make Carver work. The first is what we're all here for -- the violence. The DVD is dubbed "The Grisly Edition", and audiences won't have to wait long for the shit to hit the fan. When it does, it comes in chunky blood-strewn gobs. Bodies are beaten to pulps, nailed, eviscerated, chopped, hacked, exploded, and mangled with a gleeful kind of reckless abandon. Then there's the acting. I don't know who these kids are, but I didn't doubt them for a second. There are solid performances given all around, but even that isn't the true star of this show. The shining light here, folks, is the sound design. It's damn unnerving. Just like in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, sound and music are used here not only to invoke mood, but to jangle our nerves and screw with our senses. To keep us off-kilter. It works like a motherfucker too. These folks did their homework.
You may not know the name Franklin Guerrero, Jr. To my knowledge he's made only one other film, the surprisingly decent The 8th Plague (review here). Guerrero has grown leaps and bounds since that flick, and if Carver is any indication of what this guy is capable of and where he is going, then believe you me we're in for a treat in the coming years. Mark my words; he's a filmmaker to be watched. Besides, anyone who directs a movie while wearing an Evil Dead t-shirt is all right with me!
In terms of DVD extras there's not a lot, but what's here is completely serviceable. Things kick off with two separate commentaries with Guerrero and his producers, and while each is an interesting enough listen there's little reason to sit through both. Instead, I recommend heading straight to the well made fifteen-minute making-of featurette which covers a surprising amount of ground in such a scant runtime. From the best days on set to the worst, every gory detail is shared with a smile from a truly enthusiastic cast and crew including what went into fashioning the nastiest toilet I have ever seen. Jesus Christ, man! I needed to shower after just looking at it! From there we get about five minutes of deleted scenes that include a bit of an alternate ending, and we're done. Like I said, not packing, but not too skimpy either.
While far from perfect (the movie has a distinct shot-on-video look and there are a few blown lines and edits here and there), Carver is a vicious little movie that pulls no punches and goes straight for the jugular. It's beautifully sick. You will cringe. You will wince. You will watch this more than once.
3 1/2 out of 5
3 out of 5
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