“The Call of Charlie” (2016): Lovecraftian Horror Meets Romantic Comedy in Witty Ensemble Cast Short

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Being set up by friends for a blind date can have its own unique set of horrors, but when one of the potential suitors involved is an ancient, evil deity from deep beneath the sea, it’s a different situation altogether. Director Nick Spooner’s horror comedy The Call of Charlie tackles that situation exactly, with hilarious results.

This comedy of manners – and lack thereof – sees affluent couple Diane (Brooke Smith, of The Silence of the Lambs) and Mark (Harry Sinclair) preparing for a “datey thing” where they will introduce their friends Charlie (Sven Holmberg) and Maureen (Kristin Slaysman) to each other. Unfortunately, Diane’s old friend Virginia (Roberta Valderrama, of The Purge: Anarchy) decided to do a pop-in surprise visit with her husband Jay (Evan Arnold, of the Lucifer TV series) in tow while they were in town.

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A matchmaking set-up dinner runs into sudden complications in Nick Spooner’s horror comedy short The Call of Charlie, starring (left to right) Sven Holmberg, Harry Sinclair, Brooke Smith, Roberta Valerrama, and Evan Arnold.

Diane and Mark are obviously displeased about the intrusion but invite the couple to join them for dinner. Then Charlie shows up, and everything escalates. Jay is disgusted by Charlie’s appearance – after all, he is a Lovecraftian creature – and has a hard time holding in his feelings. When Maureen arrives and is impressed with Charlie, everyone sits down to dinner and begins an evening they will remember as long as they live.

The Call of Charlie is a wry, sly horror comedy that satirizes social affectations while simultaneously bringing on belly laughs from the absurdity of having Cthulhu over for dinner to introduce him to a nice girl. Where Cthulhu goes, madness and mayhem are never far behind, so expect to see some evil unleashed during the proceedings, as well.

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Blind date Maureen (Krsitin Slaysman) tries to beguile Charlie with her charms.

The screenplay by Guy Benoit (Exhumed), John Simpson, and Nick Spooner is delightful, and director Spooner, who has directed television commercials for almost two decades, acquits himself marvelously in his first turn at helming a short film. The pacing is perfect and the action is brightly lit with colorful sets. The creature effects for Charlie by The Basement FX are impressive and a lot of fun to watch. Practical effects fans have a lot to love in The Call of Charlie.

The performances really raise the short to another level. The experienced ensemble cast does a fantastic job, and the actors all show a flair for solid comic timing.

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Charlie is brought to captivating life thanks to the work of The Basement FX and the performance of Sven Holmberg.

The Call of Charlie is currently on the film festival circuit and has picked up many well-deserved awards along the way. Keep an eye out for it. Although I look forward to watching this short again and again, I also am eager to see what Nick Spooner has in store for monster movie fans in the future.

The Call of Charlie: 4 Stars (4 / 5)

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Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.