Recently, I was invited to a private film screening in Soho. I’m grateful that I got this opportunity and that I got to talk to some of the people involved with Charismata. It was a lovely evening and I want to say a huge thank you to the cast and crew for having me!
I went into Charismata completely blind, all I knew was that it was an independent horror film. In a way that made it more exciting because I had absolutely no idea what to expect; horror is incredibly diverse and can be blended with most other genres. As it happens, this particular film was half crime half horror. It follows the story of Detective Farraway who has been assigned to a difficult case involving ritualistic murders, and how this case starts to take a toll on her. The iconography of this film is reminiscent of gritty crime films like Se7en; especially some of the crime scenes we get to witness. The special effects department did a wonderful job here, and I was blown away with how they accomplished so much on such a small budget. There’s some exceptional talent attached to this film, both on-screen and off.
I was impressed by all of the performances in the film as the quality of acting was very high. Sarah Beck Mather plays the protagonist incredibly well and I got a Clarice Starling vibe from her with the way she plays a strong, independent woman in a police force dominated by men. She’s absolutely fascinating to watch and I loved the way she brought this character to life. Similarly, Jamie Satterthwaite’s portrayal of arrogant businessman Michael Sweet is almost Jack Nicholson-esque – keep an eye out for that unnerving smile, you’ll know exactly what I mean when you see it. Each character felt like they had purpose, nobody came across as two-dimensional or irrelevant. Even the minor characters were engaging, particularly the members of the police force who perfectly embodied British humour and stereotypes. It’s definitely a typically “British film” and it was wonderful to see areas I know well captured on screen. Some of the scenes are very intense, and the actors performed them perfectly. There’s a particular scene starring Johnny Vivash’s character that I complimented him for in person, because it was so well acted. I will refrain from posting any spoilers but I think you’ll know what scene I’m referring to.
Whilst Charismata isn’t a film with constant jump scares, I was certainly on edge for a lot of it. It is a psychological horror and messes with your head; they’ve done a fantastic job of building suspense and making the audience feel uneasy. A criticism I often have of the horror genre is that it can get repetitive and predictable, but this narrative was filled with pleasant surprises. My predictions throughout the film were wrong, and I was glad. I especially didn’t see the third act coming, and the final scene left me stunned. It’s refreshing to see an entry to the horror genre that doesn’t cash in on horror cliches and obvious endings. It is truly a unique film in its own right.
My only real criticism of Charismata is that the first act was a lot weaker than the others. I felt like the dialogue could have been a bit more polished here, and it felt a little too scripted and unnatural. But please don’t let that put you off watching it; the acts that follow are brilliant, and hard to believe they come from an independent film. Everyone involved has clearly worked so hard and it’s paid off.
The film is currently doing the festival route, so if you get the chance to see it I’d definitely recommend that you do. I will repost any announcements about the film on my social media pages so you can stay in the loop about what’s going on.
I wish everyone involved with Charismata the best of luck and I’m looking forward to seeing more of their work in the future!