Mundane film that fails to fully shine

A Christmas secret is a holiday-themed film about a young girl, Violet (played by Violet McGraw), who dons the detective’s hat to solve the mystery of the missing bells in her town. The film is directed by French filmmaker Alex Ranarivelo (Born to Race, Bennett’s War) and plays Violet McGraw in the title role. Also, the one-hour, forty-minute film was written by John Ducey.

The film’s full cast includes Oscar Nuñez, Beau Bridges, Eddie Cibrian, Christoph Sanders, Drew Powell, Lauren Lindsey Donzis, Santino Barnard, Leonardo Cecchi, Alkaio Thiele, Lauren Richardson, Karen Torres, Toby Larsen, Shonte Akognon and Brian D Cohen. In addition, Reuben Steinberg will serve as cinematographer, while Bret Hedlund will head up the editing department.

The official synopsis of the film is as follows

A hundred years ago in Pleasant Bay, Oregon, a young boy discovered a streak of Santa’s magical bells, bringing a century of prosperity and peace to the small town. Now, just days before Christmas, the bells – the town’s lifeblood – are missing and it’s up to a group of intrepid kids to solve the case, find the bells and restore the magic of Christmas to Pleasant Bay and its residents.

-A Christmas Mystery Review contains no spoilers-

The film begins with some light context about Pleasant Bay, a small town recovering from the Great Depression after a young boy found some wealthy Jingle Bells that changed the fortunes of all residents. Now, almost a century later, these bells still bring peace and happiness to the place until they are finally stolen.

Violet, the youngest daughter of the town sheriff, takes it upon herself to solve the mystery when she learns that her best friend’s father, George Bottoms, has been nailed as a bell thief. Believing in Geroge’s innocence, she teams up with her siblings to uncover the truth behind the missing Jingle Bells.

This brief introduction to the film is actually the heart and soul of the feature film. And perhaps the only exciting thing about this otherwise dull and understated flick that doesn’t bother to keep you sitting through a boring ninety-minute script. Besides, if you happened to (and just happened to) see the trailer before venturing into the flick, then there’s nothing more to look forward to.

Ten-year-old Violet McGraw tries so hard to carry the entire film on her shoulders and ends up conducting a futile rescue attempt. In fact, at one point I was more interested in the candy in the police station than in the abandoned jingle bells.

A Christmas secret
A still from A Christmas Mystery

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While the film hides the ultimate culprit well (at least until the first thirty minutes), it doesn’t bother to make the clue intriguing. I also think that the wannabe detective Christmas movies took the quote from Alfred Hitchcock “There is no terror in the bang, only in the expectation”in absolutely the opposite way.

The film lacks the basic innocence that Christmas movies once had, and eventually tries to hide it under the guise of heartwarming mystery. Remarkably, the only feel-good moment in the entire flick was a brief but upbeat performance by Oscar Nuñez.

A Christmas Mystery: Final Thoughts

A Christmas secret
A still from A Christmas Mystery

If you are looking for a heartwarming Christmas movie with a cozy and complete atmosphere, then I suggest you look at other places.

You can stream the film on HBO Max. Let us know what you think about it in the comments section below.

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