Friday, March 24, 2017

BUFF ’17: The Call of Charlie (short)

Unfortunately, Emily Post never explained how to act when attending a dinner party with a Lovecraftian elder god. It turns out you can just call him Charlie, but please don’t stare at his Cephalopod head. Of course, it is hard not to, as one somewhat uncouth couple learns when they crash the wrong soiree in Nick Spooner’s short film, The Call of Charlie (trailer here), which screens tonight as part of the Homegrown Horror shorts block at the 2017 BostonUnderground Film Festival.

Diane and Mark are preparing for an intimate dinner party. The only guests they have invited are their old friend Charlie and Maureen, an office-mate they hope to fix him up with. They have thoroughly prepped her for Charlie, so she understands what to expect. However, when Diane’s college friend Virginia and her husband Jay spontaneously decide to pop over with a bottle of wine, they have no idea what they are getting into.

Poor Jay is a little put off by Charlie’s tentacle-face. As his revulsion grows, he starts breaching etiquette in numerous ways. Still, it is hard to blame him for getting rattled, since Charlie radiates pure, ancient, primordial evil.

Call of Charlie is easily one of the funniest shorts currently making the festival rounds. You could argue it is essentially a prolonged comedy sketch, but the sad truth is shows like SNL simply are no longer sufficiently literate to produce a Lovecraft-themed routine, nor do they have the guts to handle its macabre edge.

Brooke Smith and Harry Sinclair are terrific as Diane and Mark. They seem very with-it and witty, but they are also completely nuts. Frankly, Roberta Valderrama is just amazingly obnoxious as Virginia, while the way Evan Arnold’s Jay loses his cool is quite a spectacle to behold.

The Charlie make-up effects are impressive as well, especially considering short films usually have short budgets. Lovecraft fans will absolutely bow down in reverence, but anyone who digs horror and cult cinema will be charmed by The Call of Charlie when it screens tonight (3/24), as part of Homegrown Horror, at BUFF ’17.