With the start of August also comes the start of Garage Sale Mystery Month! In honor of this joyous occasion, I have decided to review all four Garage Sale Mystery films, starting with Garage Sale Mysteries: The Pandora’s Box Murders! The Garage Sale Mystery series is one of my favorite series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. For five years, this series has been consistent when it comes to talent, quality, and intrigue. The idea of having a protagonist incorporate detective work with something that is near and dear to their heart (in Jennifer’s case, garage sale shopping) is something that Hallmark has quickly capitalized on, creating more mystery movies on the network that follow a similar formula. When the first Garage Sale Mystery Month took place last August, it not only helped the Garage Sale Mystery series remain one of the biggest staples on the network, but it also helped the other series on Hallmark Movie & Mysteries gain the opportunities to grow. One recent example is the Hailey Dean Mystery Month in June. Now that I said everything I wanted to about the Garage Sale Mystery series, let’s finally begin this review of Garage Sale Mysteries: The Pandora’s Box Murders!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: This latest film in the Garage Sale Mystery series has a good cast! Everyone’s character portrayals were very well done, with each actor providing a good amount of versatility to their specific role. Lori Loughlin’s acting talents have always been a highlight to this series! As a fan of When Calls the Heart, I feel that Lori has “star power” in the Hallmark community, shining brightly in each and every Hallmark production she appears in. Another star from this film (who also happens to appear on When Calls the Heart) that has a delightful on-screen presence is Eva Bourne. After first seeing her appear on When Calls the Heart in the show’s second season, I have always been impressed with her acting abilities. Eva’s portrayal of Hannah Shannon has been consistently good, adding more talent to an already talented cast! As of August 2018, Eva has only appeared in the Garage Sale Mystery series and the When Calls the Heart show/movies. I hope that Eva can be cast in more Hallmark movies, maybe even a Hallmark Christmas movie besides the annual When Calls the Heart production.
The mystery: In Garage Sale Mysteries: The Pandora’s Box Murders, there were two murder mysteries that were correlated to each other. Also, a mystery surrounding a beloved puzzle box was featured within the film’s main plot. The addition of this puzzle box was intriguing because it gave the audience an interesting piece of the story to focus on besides the murder mystery itself. It also added a new element to this series, as puzzles are typically not featured in the mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The puzzle box plot was creative and engaging.
The humor: A murder mystery is almost always the prime focus in the mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This is no different for the Garage Sale Mystery series. An element that has been consistent in Garage Sale Mystery is the incorporation of humor. The amount of humor within Garage Sale Mysteries: The Pandora’s Box Murders and throughout the Garage Sale Mystery series has been enough to not make the overall tone of the series feel like “doom and gloom” but still recognize the seriousness of each murder case. Whether it is the friendly banter between Jennifer and Tramell or a humorous comment one of the characters make during a more light-hearted moment, the use of comedy in the Garage Sale Mystery adds charm and personality to this series.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The start time of the mystery: In Garage Sale Mysteries: The Pandora’s Box Murders, the puzzle box was introduced within the first 20 minutes of the film. However, the murder mystery didn’t start until about 21 minutes after the film began. If you read my review for Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game, you would remember that 10 to 15 minutes is what I think is the ideal start time for a mystery. The sooner the mystery starts, the sooner the audience can join the protagonist to help solve the case.
The subplots: While Jennifer was busy starring on a reality tv show and solving three mysteries, both of her children were given their own subplot. Hannah met a police officer who ended up becoming her boyfriend. After experiencing a fender bender, Logan takes responsible for his mistake. These subplots weren’t bad, they just didn’t spark as much intrigue as the mysteries themselves.
A slower pace: In the Garage Sale Mystery series, the films usually have a faster pace. This helps the mystery’s suspense and intrigue remain consistent throughout the film. In the latest Garage Sale Mystery film, the pace was on the slower side, making scenes and stories feel drawn out.
My overall impression:
Garage Sale Mysteries: The Pandora’s Box Murders was a decent start to Garage Sale Mystery Month. Because there are three more movies yet to premiere, I hope the rest of the movies get stronger as the month goes on. Garage Sale Mystery was the pioneering series of month-long storytelling, with no other mystery series attempting to release back-to-back films until Garage Sale Mystery Month started last August. Since 2013, the Garage Sale Mystery series has only gotten stronger, with more stories left to tell and more mysteries left to solve. One could say that this series opened the doors for the other mystery series that would come in later years, like the Murder She Baked series and one of the newer series, Darrow & Darrow. As Hallmark Movies & Mysteries continues to create more mystery series, let us not forget that Garage Sale Mysteries the series that, essentially, started it all.
Overall score: 7 out of 10
Have you seen the Garage Sale Mystery films? Are you excited for Garage Sale Mystery Month? Please tell me what you think in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!