The Pumpkin Karver (2006)

The police ruled it a justified homicide. It was a Halloween prank gone horribly wrong, Alec pretending to be a masked killer attacking his girlfriend before her brother intervened and stopped him! With a knife! Again and again! How was Jonathan to know that on Halloween night, it wasn’t really a movie-style slasher who just randomly came into the house to murder his sister only a few minutes after her prick boyfriend Alec just left? Who would have thought it was all a joke?

Well sure, you or I or pretty much anyone with half a brain wouldn’t come rampaging at a guy in a costume on Halloween, stabbing him over and over like we were Norman Bates after too many cups of coffee, but Jonathan was still amped from a brutal night of carving pumpkins!

And poor Alec! How could he have possibly known what a bad idea it would be to get crossways with his girlfriend’s brother? After all, only moments before his prank, they had been hanging out together while the sister was deciding what costume to wear. Just a couple of buddies doing buddy stuff like Alec spraying beer on Jonathan, burping in his face, and most buddyrific of all, ruining the awesome jack-o-lantern that Jonathan was obsessively carving! Sure, it looked like it was a homicidal crazed look perpetually affixed to Jonathan’s face throughout all of this fun, but some folks just have a strange way of showing how much they enjoy being bullied.

No matter though because Alec is in the ground, it’s one year later and Jonathan and his sister Lynn have moved to a new town for a fresh start. Now either Johnny is not under the care of a therapist or if he is, he’s under the care of the worst one of all time because the town they move to is called Carver. As in pumpkin carver. Even better for Johnny’s recovery, it’s Halloween again and Lynn takes him to a Halloween party full of punk kids in costumes and guys who are pricks to him. (Am I only the one who wonders if Lynn has a fetish for watching her brother stab guys to death?)

The first hint of trouble comes not long after they arrive at the party and Jonathan thinks he sees Alec decked out in full costume! But he’s probably just seeing things and besides there’s a creepy old dude lurking around to be menacing instead. A creepy old dude who is also an expert pumpkin carver! Just like the skills Jonathan’s missing father taught him all those years ago!

Could this be his long last dad? Thankfully the movie didn’t go there (at least I think it didn’t though everything got so muddled by the end, I wasn’t even sure who the bad guy truly was) because isn’t it enough that the audience has to swallow that there’s a guy who’s an expert pumpkin carver living in a town called Carver who is just waiting for a kindred spirit to lecture about stabbing, cutting and bad juice running through you? (A normal person would have spent ten seconds with this crazy old coot before leaving, but Jonathan couldn’t seem to tear himself away from the guy’s insane ravings.)

After an interminable set up that has us suffering through college kids dressed as Charlie’s Angels, the Hulk, Austin Powers and a pirate, a person dressed like Alec was dressed when he was killed by Jonathan the year before starts killing these kids and carving up their faces. There really isn’t any mystery about who is doing it since it either has to be Alec somehow back from the dead or it’s Jonathan who has snapped for some reason. (I suppose it could have been his sister, but she wasn’t an expert pumpkin carver so I dismissed her pretty quickly.)

It’s a testament to the film’s poor story that the answer turned out somehow to be a combination of Alec returning from the dead and Jonathan going crazy! There are scenes where Jonathan sees Alec and is injured by him and more absurdly is victimized by bolts of electricity that Alec shoots off, but no one else sees both of them at the same time.

So Jonathan is haunted/possessed by Alec’s evil spirit and is forced to do these terrible things. But why? Alec was just a regular guy. He might have been a douchebag but he wasn’t a wizard or voodoo priest or anyone who had supernatural powers or could lay down a curse on Jonathan so why would his accidental death lead to all this? And why would it involve carving innocent people’s faces up?

None of this though would even be an issue except that the film insisted on a “kicker” of an ending that made you want to kick the movie in the nuts for its nonsensical turn of events. While the film would still have been as a dull as an old man’s antique pumpkin carving knife with its obnoxious characters who get killed in lackluster fashion, at least it would have made some sense if it turned out that Jonathan had gone crazy and done all the killing. But instead, they had him literally transform into Alec in front of his disbelieving sister’s eyes!

So many questions are raised. What does it all mean? What was the point of all the time spent listening to the old man? When the opening credits played, there was a voice over that said Alec’s blood was a different color than normal. I suppose that’s connected to this, but what’s so special about Alec and his blood? And does this mean that Lynn is going to start dating Alec again? And if she does, is she really dating her psycho brother instead?

And this movie supposedly had a budget of one million dollars. Where did all the money go? Obviously not to the writers who also directed and produced or to any of the actors (someone please tell the guy playing Jonathan that acting involves more than assuming a range of goofy facial expressions for 90 minutes) and not for the locations and sets (a desert and $100 or so worth of Halloween decorations). Maybe it all went to pumpkins. While failing to deliver anything approaching a competent, coherent or interesting slasher film, it did deliver a sizable number of pumpkins.

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