Firstly I’d just like to say thank you to Co-Writer and Director, Mary Russell for sending me the link to her 12 minute, Horror/Thriller short “Carved”. Carved follows Eden (played by Marissa Crisafulli) and her three friends who are on a road trip to Vegas for the weekend. Unbeknownst to them, the soul of a violent prison inmate begins possessing them one by one. The film also stars Chia Chen, Angelica Chitwood, Kate Nichols, Christopher Karbo and Paris Dylan. I got lucky and stumbled across the IMDb page for Carved and discovered that Mary not only writes/produces and directs, but she’s done some acting as well. This is her directorial debut but she’s since made several more shorts that I’m sure will be released in the near future.
Let’s start with Daniella Batsheva’s eye-catching poster illustration because it’s a big part of the reason I was interested in Carved. I’m a sucker for hand drawn artwork and this is great, so to is the supernatural premise behind Russell’s film. Carved opens with some slick establishing shots while immediately introducing us to Officer Jenner (Karbo) and his violent prisoner (played by Dylan) mid facility transfer (maybe?), and that’s where things take an interesting turn. The film is pretty well shot and the audio levels are nice and clear. The score consists of mostly synth and sounds reminiscent of the music in some of Stephen King’s film adaptions. The lighting is probably my favourite aspect of the film, especially considering a majority of the short takes place at night. Those scenes in the car with the girls in transit are most noteworthy. The visual effects are adequate given the budget and there’s a decent amount of practical blood spraying across the screen during the 12 minutes. Most of the cast weren’t given a lot to work with in terms of character development but the performances are mostly solid. The combination of Chitwood, who plays “Eboni”, and Crisafulli as “Eden”, does work quite well.
Much like with most sophomore attempts there’s a few issues, but it’s not anything that really weighs the film down. Some of the framing is a little close at times, particularly during the first couple of minutes but that kind of criticism is just down to creative license and personal preference. In the same series of shots there’s something odd going on with the visual backdrop, again later when we see the girls car traveling on the road, I don’t know if perhaps that was done with CG or not (not sure). Some of Greg Nicolett’s music is simply too loud in the mix and chunks of the dialogue are riddled with extra profanity that isn’t essential for the viewer to realize the gravity of the girls situation. Most of the general interaction felt real enough but Chen’s crying fell flat and the ending of Carved is rather predictable.
Carved makes for a nice introduction to the works of Mary Russell, I was entertained for its duration. I love the poster art and the script definitely has a hint of Stephen King’s “Desperation” meets “The Hitcher” about it. It’s well shot, the score works and the stylistic lighting helps make for an atmospheric little thriller. There’s pretty girls and some nice blood flow, even if the direction of it all is somewhat expected. Some more attention to detail on the technical front would have just tidied up what’s already a solid product. Odd weak moment aside, it serves its purpose and I’d definitely recommend this to fans of the genre! You can check it out at the link below, Enjoy!
My rating for “Carved” is 6.5/10