Movie Review: CHARLOTTE

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charlotteRuthless Studios
2017
NR

Once again, Amazon Prime movie streaming service, you got me. You had me thinking Charlotte was going to be a horrible low-budget knockoff of the Annabelle movies. I mean, look at that video art up there. Decrepit-looking doll with a hand put up to her lips in the universal “ssshhh” gesture, with the subtitle of “The Doll Behind The Horror”. That image alone promises nightmare-inducing unintentional laughter-inducing scary doll horror goodness.

But no, that cover — just as concepts like “love” and “human decency” — is a lie. Instead of scary doll horror movie, we get an anthology collection of eight low-budget horror shorts plus the obligatory wrap-around gathered together in an 85-minute exercise in mediocrity, with maybe a couple of bright spots scattered in there.

So, the movie starts with the standard wrap-around short, titled “Ragged Damned”, where we’re introduced to the doll that I assume is the titular Charlotte, as it’s never really mentioned what the doll’s name is. Also, it looks nothing like the doll on the cover art of the movie. Anyway, said doll somehow takes the babysitter hostage, tying her up to the couch and forcing her to watch the series of short films while slowly…turning the babysitter into a doll, somehow. It just hurts trying to figure out the logic of this.

Anyway, the first proper short, “Counter Parts”, concerns a woman who had lost one of her legs and both of her eyes in a prior accident. She decides to get back her missing bits by way of VOODOO MAGIC! cursing her more famous twin sister. Of course, there’s a lame twist at the end, here…

The second short, “Dollface”, takes place on Halloween, where a woman’s husband goes missing whilst returning a lost purse, and stumbles upon a caged up girl. Turns out, the kid is caged for a purpose…

Short number three — “Tickle” — involves another babysitter, this one telling her charge the story of a troll that likes to sneak into the bedrooms of sleeping children to…TICKLE THEIR FEET! And of course, the troll is real…

In “Good Evening”, an old man summons something from his basement, and offers it finger food. And that’s it, really…

In the fifth short, “Get Off My Porch”, a suburban guy is terrorized by girl scouts he refuses to buy cookies from. And the girls are very persuasive…

In “The Judas Cradle”, a young woman comes to in a dark, dank basement with a mysterious guy tied up to a chair (just your standard Tuesday for your Uncle NecRo). Then another man — presumably the kidnapper — comes down to explain the situation for everyone…

In “My BFF”, a bratty kid receives a mysterious package containing a doll from the Uncanny Valley, and the mother doesn’t like it…for obvious reasons…

Finally, the last short, “Howl Of A Good Time”, a young girl sneaks into a horror movie festival, where she discovers the horror fans and movie theater employees aren’t what they seem. But, that’s okay, as the girl isn’t what she seems, either…

Where to begin on this. Let’s start with what I thought were the better parts, namely “Get Off My Porch”, and “Howl Of A Good Time”. Both were great fun, having something of a Robert Bloch feel to the style, especially with “Get Off My Porch”. I should point out that the FX company Scream In The Dark Productions worked on “Howl Of A Good Time”; I bring it up because they hail from my neck of the world in Nebraska, and it’s always good to be able to support some home-grown talent when I can. Mind you, this didn’t sway my opinion on the quality of the short, as I was unaware of this until the credits rolled and I could confirm this. I also want to say that “Good Evening” gets an honorable mention, due to it leaving things unexplained and in the shadows, as it were, making the mystery of what’s going on rather intriguing. Otherwise, all of the other shorts, and especially the wrap-around, are forgettable weak sauce. The only reason to really watch this is for the two shorts I mentioned, otherwise it’s not really worth the price of a rental.

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HALLOWEEN’ING Day 15: He Dies At The End

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halloween'ing 2017
Sometimes, you don’t want a full-length movie to get your Halloween horror fright on. Sometimes, just sometimes, a bite-sized short will do the trick. And thus, I present to you He Dies At The End, a nice, brief short (only four and a half minutes long) that isn’t short on the suspense or the sense of dread and such.

Alone in an office, a man is taking part in a strange online quiz, to find out how he will die.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Movie Review: 2081

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2081 (2009)Moving Picture Institute
2009
NR

“They had hoped to destroy any trace of the extraordinary in me, and in time I came to share that hope.  But the extraordinary, it seems, was simply out of their reach.”

Once in a while, I come across a short film that manages to pack more of a punch than what a full-length movie could.  I happened across this nifty 26-minute short sci-fi film some time ago, simply by happenstance, glancing at the synopsis and being rather intrigued.  And since it was the same length of your regular sitcom, I figured not much time would be wasted if it does turn out to be not worth it.  Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised at how much this resonated.

Based on Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron”, 2081 shows a dystopian future where equality is taken to its most logical and extreme conclusion, thanks to an Amendment to the Constitution and the establishment of the Handicapper General.  Now, everyone is equal, to the point of having to enforce the wearing of certain devices to establish handicaps for those who are too smart, too beautiful, too athletic, et al.  Anyone who decides to rebel and fully develop their extraordinary and exceptional qualities as individuals is deemed a national threat, an anarchist and terrorist to be locked away for reprogramming or permanent disposal.  But, everyone’s equal, so that’s a good thing.  Right?

You know, had the recent disaster that was the 2002 Twilight Zone had actual writing talent on their staff, they would have featured a story much like 2081, instead of just retreading the classic Twilight Zone stories from the past.  2081 is fantastic, a classic sci-fi tale that explores modern society’s obsession with equality, which, while altruistic and noble, like any ideology can be taken too far.  And what happens when one man decides to shake off these chains of oppression (literally and figuratively) and try to open the eyes of those dull-minded masses.

I would recommend checking out 2081 if you can.  It’s a great use of the medium of short film and sci-fi, harking back to a time when the genre was more about allegorical storytelling than things going boom.