The Carpenter (1988)

 The Carpenter (1988) movie poster

director David Wellington
viewed: 10/01/2018

Bizarrely edited and paced, The Carpenter wobbles along woozy lines of comedy, romance, and horror thriller. The film’s odd opening on a semi-dreamy woman in her house makes more sense when we come to understand that she was having a psychotic break at that moment.

Quirky by nature and design, The Carpenter is a kind of an “The Elves and the Shoemaker” turned horror film. After Alice (Lynne Adams) gets out of the funny farm, she finds herself in a newly purchased big old house with a lot of work going on in it. Only the contractors seem to be goofing off a lot and a mysterious carpenter appears at night getting all of the work done.

Luckily he’s also available to break up sexual assaults, literally disarming her attacker.

What ensues is both psychosis and love story, plus regular murders. The psychosis plays out in the film’s dreamlike tone, one that feels influenced by ineptitude perhaps more than intent (I wrote “Quaaludes” in my notes.)

Awkward a lot, fluid in bits, it’s also kind of charming in its way. Many attribute this to Wings Hauser, the carpenter, but I think Adams deserves some credit here too.

Mental breaks, philandering husband with Paul Bunyan inferiority complex, other sleazy types, it takes a good sister to rescue Alice from a dreamy killer who might be just as nightmarish as all the rest of the men.

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