Few films manage to give me the creeps, and those films that do usually include insects or spiders. But Unlocking Charlie by Stephen Crilly (Agro Films) succeeded by turning me into a combination agoraphobic (fear of open spaces) and claustrophobic (fear of enclosed spaces).
When his worst fears come knocking, an agoraphobic man’s love for the girl next door is put to the ultimate test.
Irish director/writer Stephen Crilly wrings an amazing amount of emotion out of a short and simple 13-minute film. After just a few minutes following the life of Charlie, (in an awesome performance by Tom Maguire) I promise you will experience the panic he feels. And just when you think you’re becoming agoraphobic yourself, the anguish follows Charlie inside his apartment, and you’ll feel like the walls are closing in on you as you watch.
The plot of the film is straightforward, and involves the topic of agoraphobia. The protagonist, Charlie, suffers such extreme agoraphobia that stepping more than a few feet outside his apartment makes him panic. But motivation comes calling in the form of the girl next door, played by Grace Kelley, whom I’ve decided I could stare at all day long. Le Sigh. She is a lovely juxtaposition to the horror Charlie goes through. Acting was great, and much of it was done without lines of dialog.
Post production was high quality. Well done sound, lighting and direction made this short, dramatic film really pop. I’m not ordinarily a fan of the free-floating camera style (overdone to nauseous levels in The Blair Witch Project) but the floating camera work in Unlocking Charlie really give the film an uneasy quality, adding to the tension.
All in all, Unlocking Charlie is a quick, dark character study. Watch Unlocking Charlie here for yourself: