04th Nov2013

‘Zero Charisma’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Sam Eidson, Anne Gee Byrd, Brock England, Garrett Graham, Lowell Bartholomee, Katie Folger, Larry Jack Dotson | Written by Andrew Matthews | Directed by Katie Graham, Andrew Matthews

Zero-Charisma-Scott

Another production of crowd-funding, Zero Charisma is a black comedy that tells the story of Scott (Sam Eidson) an overgrown nerd who lives with his grandmother and spends his nights as Grand Master of a fantasy board game that he and his guild have been playing constantly for three years. When one of his players has marital trouble and leaves the game, Scott finds his role as leader of the misfits put into jeopardy when a new “hipster” initiate enters the group.

Despite being a huge nerd, board games and in particular role-playing games, have never appealed to me. Yes, I’ve had the odd game of Zombicide and Star Wars: X-Wing with my board-game loving buddy Andrew, and I did enjoy playing You’re the Maniac! – the slasher movie inspired card game – when I had to review it for my former website, but RPG’s and board games are not my go-to form of entertainment. Movies are.

So why am I telling you this? Well Zero Charisma is inherently grounded in the world of role-playing and as such I’m positive a lot of the jokes probably went over my head. However like The Office – with which this film shares a lot in common, such as the faux-documentary stylings – you don’t have to know the subject matter to see yourself in the characters. Scott is as much as a devotee of role-playing as I am of horror movies and I’m sure he shares similar traits as many of the audience who will seek out and watch this flick.

That his devotion takes a rather more dark turn than most of us is what gives the film its comedic edge… yet I’m sure his behaviour won’t be that strange to some. Personally I could have done with a more likeable lead, Scott is not only a nerd but he’s an ignorant human being (think a real-life version of South Park‘s Eric Cartman) – and as such is instantly unlikeable from the get-go, so it’s actually hard to empathise with him and by extension, his friends.

As a black comedy Zero Charisma works. Just. Yet as a mirror of the great divide between hipster wannabe nerds and the true die-hard nerds, the film is a huge success and your enjoyment of it will no doubt rest on which side of the nerd fence you sit…

Zero Charisma is available now in the US on VOD services, including iTunes.

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