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Even though there is probably no genre I watch more of, I do not expect too much from my low budget horror. Horror is almost a comfort blanket for me. Lots of time it's background ambiance. That might sound a bit sick and twisted but it's rare I sit up and pay attention to a low budget horror that hasn't been heavily publicized beforehand. There is just so much of it that in some ways I have become desensitized. Generally speaking I tune in and zoom out. So did Charismata make me sit up? Almost.
Charismata suffers from many of the usual pitfalls of the genre. This includes cheap and cheesy CGI and uneven acting. Crucially it is always engaging and excels in two important places.
First Sarah Beck Mather. Playing a British detective losing her mind as she investigates a murder, she is nothing short of sensational. I don't know how well known she is in the UK but I hope to see more of her in the US in the future. The other performances are not bad on the whole. Just more in keeping with what you expect from the genre. The lead though is fantastic and it's not hyperbole to say it is one of the best performances I have seen all year. A star is born. Or at least deserves to be.
Second. Apart from a strange misstep this is one of the best written horror films I have seen in some time. The dialogue sings and while there is nothing entirely original here I was still left guessing until the end.
The most important question when assessing a horror film is it scary?
Sadly, not really. There is an interesting lurid tone, a couple of average jump scares but noting made my skin crawl or my heart race. I would hesitate to even call it a horror. It's much closer to a murder mystery or a quirky Cohen brothers drama set in England. It reminded me more of A Barton Fink or Fargo than it did a Conjuring or Hereditary. This is not a bad thing. In fact it can be taken as a compliment. Just don't pretend it's something that it isn't.
6/10 if you are going in wanting a low budget horror fix.
8/10 if you just want an usual and entertaining movie.
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