MARCH 22, 2008
Attn: Whoever sent me Carver for review – thanks! I wish I could remember who you were or what site I was supposed to review the movie for, but I don’t even recall receiving the damn thing! I was looking for another movie on my shelf and spied the film nested properly in between Candyman and The Cave. No recollection of it at all. It’s as if the Direct to DVD Fairy entered my home, took careful note of my how I sort my DVDs (an impressive feat, to be sure), and filed it away for me to find at my own leisure.
And I was even more surprised to discover that it wasn’t bad! On a surface level, it’s the umpteenth Saw/Hostel wannabe to come along in the past few years, albeit fused to a standard woods-set slasher, but there are just enough fairly unique touches to warrant giving it a pass.
For starters, our hero is the angriest man in horror movie history. He gets so frustrated at the simplest things, and it delighted me every single time. When his brother mocks him for asking him “how far?” one too many times during their road trip, he launches into a sarcastic, seemingly endless rant about how his brother’s non-answer was “exactly what he was looking for”. Later in the film, he shouts about how much he hates “stupid” wine glasses. There are a couple of other moments like this as well. Man, chill out!
He also has the film’s best line by far. He enters a stall, and the toilet is kind of dirty. He makes a disgusted sigh and opens the adjacent stall, which is ten times WORSE. He retches, and then notices a large pile of poop on the wall. “How do you shit on the wall?!” he asks no one in particular. It’s hilarious.
I should note at this time that the film has a particular fascination with bodily functions, particularly poop. After this sequence, another guy walks into another outhouse that is even MORE disgusting than the one with the wall-shit. The guy shrugs and sits down on the toilet anyway, and then the disgusting bowl is used as a weapon against him a bit later. We are also treated to the sight of a girl puking, and in the film’s most memorable kill, a testicle being plied, which results in blood and whatever the fuck else is inside a testicle to explode over the camera lens. Christ.
See, there are only two types of scenes I can’t handle: seeing someone get their teeth damaged (American History X – holy FUCK) and seeing dudes lose their genitalia. Everything else I am fine with, but if your movie has either one of those two types of scenes, you can guarantee that I’ll be squirming (or even looking away entirely). And since I guess that’s one of the reactions one SHOULD have when watching a horror movie, I guess in that respect the movie is a success.
The movie also has a fantastic soundtrack. And by that I mean there is a really weird and annoying (but ultimately catchy) song that plays throughout the movie. The chorus goes “Turkey in the straw, hee hee haw; Turkey in the hay, hey hee hey!” I defy anyone to watch this movie and not sing along with it by the 6th or 7th time it plays over a kill scene. Apparently, it’s an old ‘traditional’ song, much like your "Goin’ Round The Mountain When She Comes" and such, but for some reason it took a low budget slasher movie that mysteriously appeared on my DVD shelf for me to become aware of it.
It’s also a downer. Our Final Girl blows her goddamn head off, and our would-be hero gets HIS head caved in with a sledgehammer. And yet for some reason, the over the top gore/poop humor actually works well with the rather dark final act. Usually I abhor such things (Cabin Fever lost me on several occasions because of this imbalance) but it didn’t bother me here.
One thing that DID bother me was how poor the direction was. It seems like Captain John Tripod, ASC was the primary cameraman here, and several scenes have confusing and awkward blocking (particularly the scenes inside the bar). I wish writer/director Franklin Guerrero, Jr. had left the direction to someone else, as the lazy camerawork makes the film feel overly inert (DP Ryan Bedell can also be blamed). Ironically, the most frenetic camerawork we see in the film is in the snuff films that the killers are making. And this is a problem, because they seem to have been shot by at LEAST two people, when there should only be one (the hero doesn’t even figure this part of it out until the very end of the film). Things like that I am able to forgive, but other people are more stubborn, which is a shame, because Carver is much better (even at 100 minutes and only a few kills it feels fast paced) than I expected.
The DVD also has more extras than I was expecting. Two commentary tracks? I began listening to one with Guerrero and one of the producers, but he claimed that the track would be dry, technical, and “pretentious”, and that the other one would be more fun. So I switched it. On this track (which is Guerrero again, with a different producer), they get drunk, however they are annoying drunks. If you want to know how to do a REAL drunken commentary, listen to Cannibal: The Musical’s track. That thing is fucking amazing. There are a few tidbits to learn along the way, but someone needs to inform them that mispronouncing words and trying to ‘bring back’ forgotten insults is NOT the stuff of comic gold. There are also deleted scenes and a behind the scenes, nothing you’ll miss.
What say you?