A teen girl (Jessi Burkette) tucks a boy into bed. She's babysitting for the night. After some over-the-phone teasing from her horny boyfriend, she receives a call from the homeowners, they're going to be late back. Too bad for her, now she has to wait longer to go be with her fella.
"It's not like I had any plans" she reassures them.
Then things get spooky. She asks them politely if she can move the doll from in the living room, it's giving her the creeps and is staring right at her. The parents question her... they don't have a doll.
Presuming that they're messing with her, she resorts to turning the thing around, lying back on the couch and just going to sleep. When she wakes up, she is sat upright, gagged and bound, with the doll next to her comfortably, remote control in hand.
It turns on the TV, and then begins a series of short horror films that the girl is forced to watch.
That's really all the story there is in this film. From that point onward, it becomes an anthology. We return to the girl in the house between every short, but not for long – these revisits last about 30 seconds at most, and nothing new is ever added to the plot. The boy himself comes downstairs at one point, gets something out of the fridge, and then heads back upstairs, not even batting an eyelid. Kids, eh?!
The whole make-up of this movie is weird. I received the DVD in the post and looked up the title, as I do with all my screeners... nothing! Not a director or crew member's name to be found on the box, I googled the two actors mentioned on the front cover. Their IMDb pages didn't list a film called 'Charlotte'... and so I typed in 'Charlotte horror movie'... finally, a trailer and an Amazon page!
I have to be completely honest, I don't know that much about how this film was made, or why it exists in the confusingly obscure state that it does. A director called Patrick Rea seems to have produced the in-between bits of this anthology, featuring the girl and the doll, while the shorts themselves had been hand-picked from both his own catalogue and various recent filmmakers and just placed one after the other.
Alas, none of them were anything above average. The diversity of the story topics was respectable (voodoo, evil kids, living dolls, werewolves, child abusers...) but other than that, they all fall either due to poor acting or just generally uninteresting circumstances in the tales being told. One common trait I noticed probably in every short was the shittiness of the endings. The works of different directors are in this film, as I've said, but it's strange that not one of them manages to write a fully-formed story. The shorts often end on a cliff-hanger (acceptable if they're good) or sometimes just stop when you least expect it, which I hated, though I can't say I was totally involved in the goings-on in the first place. Maybe they were doing us a favour.
The quality of the shorts vary dramatically too. Some of them look a lot better than others. One of them, John Edward Lee's THE JUDAS CRADLE, which actually otherwise stands out as one of the more watchable of the bunch, has shaky cameras from time to time that distracted me after all the solid work beforehand.
The score is something nice though, can't go wrong with a music box! So that's something.
CHARLOTTE comes to DVD via MVD Visual, region free and thus playable everywhere.
A static menu screen provides two options: watch the film, or do so via 10 chapter stops, 8 for the short features and a remaining two for the start and end credits.
The running time is 84 minutes, and there are no extras whatsoever for post-viewing.
There is absolutely nothing memorable about this film. It's not what I would call 'bad', though I don't think it's worth taking time out of your evening to watch.
Also... who the hell is Charlotte? Is it the doll? If so, that should give you an idea of just how much of the film is about her, we never get told!
Review by Elliott Moran
|Released by MVD Visual|