A group of twenty somethings head out to Halcyon Ridge for a weekend camping trip. All seems normal as the foursome meets up and sets up camp. Upon arriving at the camp site, they are first greeted by the friendly bar proprietor of the small town who talks them into cleaning out his cabin in exchange for a night of free drinks.
Moving along, they then meet a young girl at the camp site who's friend has turned up missing. Banding together, they head to the cabin to knock out their new found task. All is well as the begin to clean, until someone makes the discovery of a stack of film reels and an old projector. Contained within is what appears to be a crappy horror flick of people being mutilated in the woods. It's not long thereafter that they realize that the films may in fact not be fictional...
Pseudo-snuff flicks are a dime a dozen so it's hard to make yours stand out from the others. "Carver" is no exception although thankfully the snuff film aspect is not the main focus. It's a plot point sure, but most of the good stuff happens sans camera. Slasher flicks are dime a dozen as well, although they don't require quite the extra shine that something more specialized such as a snuff film would require. It's for this reason that "Carver" becomes a bit of a mixed bag of both good and bad.
From the start, the overwhelming factor that hits the viewer first is 'god damn, that kid is whiny as hell, when's he going to shut up?' It takes awhile for it get better from there. Most of the acting is competent enough to separate these actors apart from the High School drama club, but beyond that...no. Most of the dialog feels forced and ham handed as our gang of idiots tromp through the woods to get to their camp site.
The problem here is that this introductory first act meanders too long, forcing you to eyeball the fast forward button with a light snack look; anything to get through it quicker. Even as they meet up with the random woman sharing their spot, things don't really improve. The girl, telegraphed as being our 'main girl' as soon as we meet her, is not the most charismatic spoon in the drawer. From a painful looking smile to bored delivery, none of it helps.
Things fail to pick up until we trudge through to the karaoke scene at the local redneck bar. To this point, we were at risk of saying the hell with it and shooting myself in the foot to get out of a viewing. Thankfully, with the sight of the bar denizens things were bound to pick up. You ever imagine what it would be like if your parents were bar-flys? Not a drunken and disheveled version of your parents...your parents just as the are; khaki Dockers, button up shirt, mom's jeans pulled up past the belly button, poofy hair? Well, now your questions are answered. The bar in 'Carver' is packed full of them. Sure, it's a minor point but with all the work it took to get through the movie to this point, I'll take any chance I can get for a good laugh.
Now, I mentioned that the movie begins to get better at this point, and it does. Now is the time for the arrival the rotund man-child who stars in all of the snuff films stored in the shed. He's a big boy with a violent streak and once he shows up to work his magic, the movie finally begins to shine. The sole good things to mention in this one all surround the work of the killer. Mumbling, bumbling, and rather quiet, he makes handy work out of everything from vice grips to wood saws to get his point across.
"Carver" contains one of the first cringe worthy scenes of 2008 surrounding a pair of vice grips, an out house, and a testicle. In full gooey detail. Ouch indeed, and the effects were handled well. In fact, anything that Bubba lays waste to was handled well. Good gore effects all around, and even the writing takes a turn for the better. The one thing that made me like the second act of this so much? There are twists and turns here that you're not really expecting. Most movies telegraph everything from the beginning; "Carver" goes pretty far to prove your assumptions wrong.
A slow start, and strong finish, "Carver" is a crap shoot. I can't outright tell you to go watch it as many of you might not have the same tolerance as I do for shoddy cinema. Still, there's a gem at the bottom of the turd pile here and makes it worth digging through the first couple layers. You'll find a little bit to enjoy, I can promise you that.