Last October, I had planned on reviewing Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver. But, as I talked about in an editorial, Hallmark decided to postpone the movie until January 2020. Now that the beginning of the year has come, it means the film has finally arrived! The most exciting part of this movie appeared to be the use of magic. Also, the idea of a facility that specializes in magic is something that has never been featured in a Hallmark film before. These are the things that made me look forward to this installment! This is now the third movie in the Crossword Mysteries series that I’ve not only watched, but also reviewed. As I said in my reviews for the first two movies, I thought they were ok. But I was always interested in seeing how this series progressed. With a combination of magic and crossword puzzles, I wondered how it could raise the bar for the series. Well, since I recently saw the film, we can finally receive an answer to that question!
By the way, I have a new posting schedule where I will regularly publish articles on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Because most of the main cast in this movie has also appeared in the first two entries, it helps maintain the consistency of the acting performances. Another factor that added to these performances was the quality of the cast’s acting talents. Once again, Lacey and Brennan did a really good job with the material they were given. It allowed the versatility of their acting abilities to shine through. They also had good on-screen chemistry with each other and with their co-stars. Speaking of co-stars, I liked watching the performances of the supporting cast! One supporting actor that caught my attention was Steve Belford. In this movie, Steve portrays Reed, a new employee at the New York Sentinel. Despite the fact he’s in the film for a limited amount of time, Steve did a great job at bringing charisma to his role. This helped him create a character that was more memorable than I expected!
The Magic Manor: Half of this movie took place at the Magic Manor, a facility that hosts magic classes and magic shows. The most impressive aspect of this location was the architecture and design. The overall structure appeared to be Victorian, featuring impressive woodwork and beautiful stained-glass windows. What also made this location so memorable was the various rooms and hallways featured within the manor’s walls. It elevated the mystery aspect of the story, adding to the suspense and intrigue a plot like this calls for. I always looked forward to seeing this place on screen because of its photogenic qualities. I’m not sure what this facility is in real life, but I’d love to see it appear in another Hallmark production!
The editing: For the most part, films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have pretty good editing. But Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver had editing that was very well-done. One example was scene transitions. When Tess is on the phone with Logan, there were two scenes featured: Tess and Logan talking on the phone in their separate office spaces. The way these scenes were edited gave them a smooth transition. It also appeared flawless, like the movie itself did not miss a beat. The editing definitely helped make this project visually appealing!
What I didn’t like about the film:
The absence of crossword puzzles: In my review of Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder, I talked about how the insignificance of the crossword puzzles was one of the film’s biggest flaws. In Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver, crossword puzzles barely make an appearance. This took away a large portion of the series’ identity. Also, there were missed opportunities to use these puzzles as clues for the mystery. Like I said in my review of the previous film, the lack of crossword puzzles makes the film’s creative team see their idea as too niche for sustainability. It is also starting to make me wonder why this series is called “Crossword Mysteries”?
Some scenes being drawn-out: About half of the scenes in this film are dialogue heavy. While the dialogue itself was necessary for the story, it made these scenes feel drawn-out. Because of this, it also made the film’s overall pace seem slower than most Hallmark mystery movies. Personally, I think there should have been a balance between action and dialogue heavy scenes. That way, the film’s sense of intrigue would never be in danger of faltering.
The “don’t-get-involved” cliché: While this cliché is not always featured in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films, I find that it doesn’t work outside of the first or second movie in a series. This is the case for Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver. Tess’s aunt and Logan constantly tell her not to bother trying to solve the mystery. I understand that they had Tess’s best interests in mind. But these warnings were being spoken after she successfully solved two mysteries. If this series does receive a fourth movie, I hope this cliché is dropped from the story.
My overall impression:
Like I said in the introduction, Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver is the third film in this series that I’ve watched and reviewed. In my opinion, this movie is the strongest of the three! While it does have flaws, the film also has elements that elevate the material. There were even aspects of the story that could help maintain the series’ consistency. In recent years, I’ve noticed that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has taken their films more seriously. They also are more likely to try new things when it comes to story-telling. Things like this make me prefer movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries over those from Hallmark Channel. Even though Hallmark’s main network has made some good films, it seems like they are comfortable telling the kinds of stories that are more “tried-and-true”. Since Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver is the first movie I’m reviewing in 2020, it looks like my year is off to a good start!
Overall score: 7.8 out of 10
Do you like the Crossword Mysteries series? Are there any series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries that you’re looking forward to? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!