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Home | Film Review: The Carpenter (1988)

Film Review: The Carpenter (1988)



A charming (and slightly psychotic) carpenter working on a house starts killing off anyone who messes with the unhappily married woman (who is recovering from a nervous breakdown) who lives there that he has become smitten with.


At first sight this movie would appear to be a slasher flick about a crazy carpenter dispatching his victims in a number of brutal ways with all of the tools of his trade at his disposal. The thing is though, that it isn’t. Yes, there is a scene where he kills someone with a power saw and another that involves him using a drill on some unfortunate soul, but overall this movie isn’t really a slasher flick. It has elements of a slasher for sure, but thanks to a well-written script by Doug Taylor it goes just a little bit deeper than that. I’m not really sure how I would classify it to be honest. It is a horror film to an extent but at the same time it is also incredibly depressing for a number of reasons if you ask me. It may not be exactly what I thought that it was going to be but I still liked it just the same.


I had actually seen this movie before back when I was younger and I didn’t really care for it. At the time I thought that it was a little too slow and was disappointed in the relatively low body count and lack of blood and gore. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to watch it again recently because now that I’m older and wiser (at least I hope I’m wiser) I was able to look past these things and enjoy the movie for what it was. I think that it has a lot going for it and is just an awesome movie in general. I don’t want to scare anyone away from seeing it, but essentially it is a warped love story involving Alice (the sad and lonely main character) and the mysterious carpenter who becomes her unofficial protector. Don’t worry, it isn’t a sickening sweet love story that will make you want to puke sugar as a result, but it is a love story nonetheless, and it is an interesting one at that.


Probably the main reason that the movie works as well as it does is thanks to the characters. I absolutely loved Alice (played by the lovely Lynne Adams), and couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She is a very depressing and pitiful character and I just wanted everything to work out for her. The carpenter (played by the always cool Wings Hauser) is a likable character as well (despite the fact that he is a little nuts and has anger management issues) and as with Alice, there is just something a little sad about him. I couldn’t help but root for him for the most part (up until the point where he does something very stupid toward the end that jeopardizes his relationship with his beloved) and I really wanted him and Alice to ride off in to the sunset together to live happily ever after. Do they get to do so? You’ll have to watch for yourself to find out.


I also liked the fact that up until the end we aren’t exactly sure if the carpenter is even real or not. For the biggest majority of the movie it seems as though Alice is the only person that can see him. No one else is ever really around during their interactions (except for the people he is killing), and I was pretty sure that he didn’t exist and was just a figment of her imagination since she wasn’t the most mentally stable person in the world. Trying to figure out if he was real or not was part of the fun of watching the movie, and when all is revealed I thought that it was a pretty cool and original idea.


Even though it wasn’t a blood-filled slasher flick with a ton of wicked death scenes like I originally thought it was going to be I still dug The Carpenter. I thought that it was different and just a very good movie in general. The only thing that I didn’t really like about it was the ending as I thought that it seemed really rushed and was poorly written (Alice basically becomes a totally different character and it just doesn’t work if you ask me). Overall though it is pretty damn awesome and there is a lot to like about it. Give it a shot and decide for yourself, but I think that you will enjoy it.

The Carpenter (1988)

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