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Review by Andrew Phillips

Zero Charisma 2013

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Review by Andrew Phillips
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3
2016-09-18T02:42:45+01:00— updated 2016-09-19T17:51:07+01:00

I really tried to give 'Zero Charisma' a chance, but even before hitting the halfway point I was fighting the temptation to punch out of this flaming wreck. This is not a pleasant movie to watch, even if you're big into the black comedy, anti-hero psychodrama genre.

Pretty much every character is a repellant walking nerd (or hipster) cliché with few redeeming qualities. Despite this film finding distribution through Nerdist Industries, it boasts a surprisingly archaic and negative view of geek culture as a clubhouse for exclusionary, rage-filled, suspicious man-children in a state of perpetual arrested development. It even features a pseudo-Gary Gygax character, who is (of course) the epitome of the table-top asshole expert.

You'll notice I said "man-children" because, yup, this imagined geek clubhouse is also very clearly For Guys Only. My limited experience of roleplaying comes from the Harmontown podcast (and, more recently, Seeso's 'HarmonQuest' series), where female players are commonplace. But not in 'Zero Charisma's version of geek culture. One suspects that the filmmakers whipped up a chatty girlfriend for the Nerd-Tourist Hipster Nemesis at the last minute because they realized that their film lacked not only charisma, but a female presence. I mean, besides an abandoning mother character and another walking cliché—the mouthy, take-no-shit grandmother.

The acting talent ranges from weak, to weakly bad, to badly over-the-top. The filming is also bland, amateurish and oddly discordant, with fan-film quality lighting, and weird insert shots that suggest importance through their focus, but don't go anywhere.

Worst of all, the ending is so incongruently saccharine and cheerful that I could only assume that our loathesome, envious bully of a main character experienced an explosive brain embolism, and the final scene was some weird 'Brazil'-like fantasy created by his dying neurons.

Seriously, though. If you want to experience some actual, you know, fun roleplaying, check out the first episode of 'HarmonQuest'. It has more laughs in 30 seconds than 'Zero Charisma' has in 86 grueling minutes: https://youtu.be/-cuqqHGpRDE

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