I love horror. I love classic horror, indie horror, French horror, Asian horror, even the odd Hollywood horror can cut it - IF it's grounded in something truly unsettling, and treated with respect by its maker. I especially like indie horror. Small budgets don't phase me at all. I recently found the movie 'Absentia' on itunes; low-budget for sure, but made with conviction and despite its shoestring finances it actually managed to pack a wallop.
Unlike this pile of dirt.
The 'plot' (no spoilers) involves an impossibly happy city couple having a little vacay in an un-named backwater town, and running foul of a local boy and his Ma, who are looking to find the simpleton son a mate.
When this started, I was encouraged. Some nice opening credits, and even though the early scenes seemed ridiculously hokey (the set-up of the lead couple and their state of blissful happiness - complete with slo-mo frolicking in a fountain - should really have been my first clue of what was to come) there was some lovely imagery. And I have to say that the small cast does a pretty good job of working with absolutely nothing. That's where my praise ends.
As a director if you are working with a micro-budget, you'd better either have something new to say or at least be able to give us a fresh spin on an old theme. 'Carl' does neither, instead rehashing every cliché from every horror flick concerning small-town hicks and religious nutbars. There's a hick family of indeterminate number (aside from the main 'house of horror' it would seem that the townsolk are in on the plot to do away with the sweet city-folk lovebirds - but really, it's just hinted at and you're never really sure - nor do you really care). This is like watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes but with none of the panache of the originals - and none of the production values of the remakes. As a viewer, if I am going to invest time and money in a small indie film I really do expect something unique. I am extremely forgiving if you can deliver a movie that makes me think, or at least presents something a little different.
The 'plot' makes no sense, the 'characters' are horribly fleshed out, the narrative is all over the place, the violence is not challenging, rather just a little unpleasant because it doesn't mean anything... and worst of all, it's made with that awful smugness, you know the vibe... where a shot is set up in such a way where the filmmakers truly feel that they have done something amazing, but where really the viewer just scoffs and says 'really?'.
I wanted this to be in the vein of Ty West's 'House of the Devil' or 'The Inkeepers' - neither perfect movies, but at least displaying some affection and respect for the genre - but instead I honestly found myself literally suffering through every horrible cliché and every mis-fired attempt at suspense.
Please, do yourself a huge favour and avoid this catastrophe.