Charismata is a British thriller about a series of murders, with a very solid supernatural twist. It was brought to us by London-based Loose Canon Films, and we watched it on Amazon Prime.
Before I open this review with a rant, I’ll nail my colours to the mast: I really really like this film. I think it’s a well-made, underrated, overlooked gem. In a fairer world, it would have a much a higher score than 4.4 on IMDb (I know horror movies are persistently underscored there, but, even with that inexplicable downward drag, I’m surprised it didn’t scrape past 6). As far as I’m concerned, directors Andy Collier and Toor Mian have served up a cracker.
Now for the rant: the current cover art has absolutely nothing to do with the feature itself. It shows a terrified girl in bed, tormented by a demonic-looking woman on the ceiling. Since the title has religious overtones, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a possession movie. It’s not. There’s no demonic woman. There are a couple of scenes where a police detective gets scared in bed, but that’s the only connection I can see. This is doubly annoying when the film has a number of its own eerie images, any of which would have made for a great cover. Rant over.
In Charismata, troubled Detective Faraway—in a superb performance by Sarah Beck Mather—investigates some gruesome ritual murders, all the while rubbing up against her horrible male colleagues. Chief among these is her partner, played by Andonis Anthony, who does a great job as the “love-hate interest” of the film.
Faraway’s chief suspect is property developer Michael Sweet (Jamie Satterthwaite), who owns two derelict properties where murders took place. Her colleagues are on board to begin with but soon lose interest when Sweet seems to have an alibi. Only Faraway remains convinced of her hunch—even as, beset by supernatural forces, her sanity starts to unravel.
The performances in Charismata are broad but uniformly good, and certainly suited to the story. Mather is completely believable as the troubled detective and supported by a fine cast. The dialogue crackles, so all the non-horror bits (and there are many) are a pleasure to sit through.
As a movie, the production is highly competent, with great-looking scenes and creepy direction. The score is great, as you can hear from the trailer. If I had to complain about something, I’d say the finale is a tonal shift and stretches credulity—but too many horror films fizzle out in the dying moments—so I always prefer it when they take a risk and “go big”. Unlike the cover art, the trailer does a fair job of representing the movie, which absolutely fulfils the promise of the trailer.
In short, I have no idea why this film didn’t attract more attention. I really enjoyed it, and it’s a solid recommendation from me.
Still, mine is only one opinion. If you want a counterpoint perspective, try this negative review from Horror & Sons.