Take 3: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse Review

So, it’s been five months since I last reviewed a mystery film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (yes, you read that right). And I was surprised to discover, recently, that my review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game is one of my more popular reviews. Currently, it has four likes and 390 views! Because of these two factors, I decided to review all three films that will premiere during the first ever Aurora Teagarden Month! This is one of my favorite series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, so I wouldn’t pass on an opportunity to talk about these movies! The first one to air was Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse. Not only was I excited to revisit these characters, but also to see some newer faces return. What are we waiting for? Let’s begin this review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse

Aurora Teagarden 10 poster
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Aurora+Teagarden+Mysteries+A+Game+of+Cat+and+Mouse.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The acting performances in the Aurora Teagarden series are, always, a highlight. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse is no exception, as the entire cast did a great job with their on-screen performances! Once again, Candace Cameron Bure shines in the lead role! She helped carry the film with a likable personality and charm. I also liked seeing Niall Matter again as Nick Miller. Even though this character hasn’t appeared in the series for very long, he has already become a favorite! Supporting actors and actresses also did a wonderful job, whether they were series regulars or newcomers! Since the very beginning of the series, Ellie Harvie has portrayed Lillian Tibbett, Aurora’s co-worker at the library. She only makes limited on-screen appearances, but her performances make up for that. With enough believability, Ellie has been able to bring her character to life and give the audience the impression that Lillian is not Aurora’s biggest fan. The Aurora Teagarden series would not be the same without her.

 

The mystery: In almost every mystery film on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the main mystery revolves around a murder. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was about a different kind of mystery; where thefts, vandalism, and danger were the key ingredients. While there was a murder associated with the story, it was not the primary focus. Enough suspects and clues allowed the audience to stay invested in the story. Incorporating Aurora’s occupation with the mystery itself was not only clever, but also showed how well-written this movie was!

 

The surprises: I’m not going to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t seen this movie yet. But I will say that there were a few surprises that were well executed. One of them was so effective, that it made me jump in my seat! As I’ve said, this movie was well-written when it came to the film’s mystery. I also felt this way about the surprises in this movie. This was a good way to try to help the audience stay focused on what was happening on-screen.

City Library Isometric Illustration
Interior view of library image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A slower pace: Most of the mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have a faster pace. This is to maintain the suspense and intrigue that the mystery provides. In Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse, though, the overall pace was on the slower side. While the story itself were intriguing, the slower pace made the film feel like it was a little bit drawn out. This also made the movie seem like the suspense was very limited.

 

Rehashed material: There are two ongoing narratives in the Aurora Teagarden series: people disapproving of the Real Murders Club and the police not wanting Aurora to help them solve the case. I understand that things like this help a series maintain its continuity. But when this is the tenth movie in a four-year-old movie series, those narratives start to become stale. In every film, Aurora ends up solving the mystery without the help of the police. As for the Real Murders Club, the mayor of Aurora’s town became a member of the group a few movies ago. Hopefully, these narratives can be dropped or changed within the next two films.

 

Lack of comedy: Even though the films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are known for having a more serious tone than the movies on Hallmark Channel, comedy is, more often than not, incorporated into their projects. The reason for this is to give the audience some distance between the darkness of the film’s murder. The overall tone of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was serious, which left very little room for comedy. Sure, there were a few moments that made me chuckle. But the humor that is usually found in this series was sorely missed.

Private detective office interior cartoon vector
Interior image of detective’s office created by Vectorpocket at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage vector created by vectorpocket – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As a film, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was decent. But, as the first movie in Aurora Teagarden Month, this was a good start! There are very few times when this series disappoints. This film definitely did not do that, as interesting creative choices were made and the story itself was thoroughly thought out. I’ve been a fan of this series since the very beginning, so I’m glad that it finally got its own month! Because I enjoyed this entry in the Aurora Teagarden story, I am looking forward to the next two installments! Based on the commercial, it looks like the eleventh movie will feature a murder mystery party. From what I remember, there hasn’t been a party like this featured in any of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ mystery films. It looks like August is shaping up to be a very fascinating time of year!

 

Overall score: 7.3 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on the start of Aurora Teagarden Month? Are you looking forward to the next two films? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For Review

Since I happened to see Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For right after I saw the latest episode of When Calls the Heart, I felt that I needed to write a review for this movie. Also, it’s been two months since I last reviewed a mystery film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, so it was time for me to get back to talking about mystery movies. I remember when this project was first announced at Hallmark’s Winter TCA Event last year. At the time, I wondered how this series would be any different from the other mystery series that had already been established. In a Word on the Street story last August, I talked about how the movie was about to go into production. This led me to speculate whether the film would be released in Fall of 2018 or early 2019. It looks like I was right in one of those predictions, as this movie premiered in early March. Did this movie stand out from all the other mystery movies on the network? The only way to solve this mystery is to read my review of Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For!

Crossword Mysteries -- A Puzzle to Die For poster
Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Crossword+Mysteries+A+Puzzle+to+Die+For.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I thought the acting in Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For was good! Ever since this project was first announced, I was excited to see Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott star in another movie together. This is because I’ve enjoyed their performances in other Hallmark projects. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, both Lacey and Brennan did a really good job portraying their characters! Their performances display a sense of believability and emotionality that is required in a mystery story. They also had a good amount of on-screen chemistry. I also think the supporting cast did a good job in their acting performances! I’ve always enjoyed watching Barbara Niven’s performances in other Hallmark productions. So, it’s no surprise that I found myself applauding Barbara’s portrayal of Tess’s aunt, Candace. Her versatility helped make her character seem as realistic as possible. Even though Candace was only on-screen for a limited amount of time, I’m hoping this character can play a bigger role in future movies.

 

  • The incorporation of crossword puzzles: Every mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has their own unique identity, even though almost all of them focus on solving murder mysteries. Having crossword puzzles associated with this story was a creative and unique way to set this series apart from the other stories on the network. Having the puzzles correlate with the mystery worked really well for this movie. I also liked the idea of the Crossword Puzzle Tournament that was featured in the film. With the way this type of competition was portrayed in the movie, it kind of reminded me of spelling bees or chess tournaments. However, the competition itself felt like its own unique event.

 

  • The big city landscape: In most of the mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the primary location of the story is in a small, sometimes fictional, town. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, the story took place in New York City. This was a nice change in scenery which worked well of this particular story. Seeing the different businesses and facilities within this film was very interesting! One of my favorite locations in this movie was the Ping-Pong Hall, where Tess was playing a game of Ping-Pong with a friend. Not only is Ping-Pong rarely seen in Hallmark movies, but I’ve never seen a facility like this in any other Hallmark production. I hope a mystery can place at this Ping-Pong Hall in another Crossword Mysteries film!
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New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • A slow pace: Throughout the film, the overall pace was slower than in most of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films. This caused the story to feel drawn out. It also made some scenes drag on longer than they might have been intended. The issues relating to the film’s pace definitely took away some of the film’s excitement.

 

  • A lack of suspense: In most mystery films, there is a good amount of suspense that helps the audience stay invested in the story. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, the suspense was not as abundant as in other mystery movies. While there were suspenseful moments within this narrative, the film’s total amount of suspense was not fluid. This aspect did affect my overall enjoyment of the film.

 

  • A confusing story element: While watching this movie, there was one part of the story that really confused me. During this film, Pierre was the lead organizer of the annual Crossword Puzzle Tournament. He was planning on retiring and handing the title over to Tess. However, when the Tournament arrived, it looked like Pierre was competing in the competition. No one in the film seemed to notice that this could have been a conflict of interest. I don’t know if I just missed an important plot point or if the screenwriters forgot to include significant details into their script. But I found this part of the film to be very puzzling (no pun intended), even after I saw the film.
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Crossword puzzle image created by jaylopez at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/JayLopez.”

My overall impression:

Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For was just ok. It didn’t impress me, but it didn’t make me feel like I wasted my time. However, I do think this movie has the potential to start a strong and entertaining series. This movie has the pieces to lay out the foundation for a series that can be intriguing and engaging. The cast did a good job with their performances, there were creative elements found within the narrative, and the mystery itself was well written. At Hallmark’s Winter TCA Event last month, it was announced that there would be three more Crossword Mysteries movies, which will premiere in October. It will be interesting to see how this series continues, especially since there’s only so much that can be done with crossword puzzles. When October finally comes around, I do want to see what these films have in store and if this series can stand on its own.

 

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

 

Have you seen Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For? Are you excited for the rest of the Crossword Mysteries films to premiere? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Mystery 101 Review

Because my review of Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was fairly successful (with 55 views and 5 likes), it made sense for me to continue reviewing mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The next film that the network released was Mystery 101. I was pretty excited to see this film because of Jill Wagner’s and Kristoffer Polaha’s involvement in the movie. One of my favorite Hallmark movies from last year was Pearl in Paradise, so I was looking forward to seeing Jill and Kristoffer lead another Hallmark production. However, I had low expectations for this film. This is because Mystery 101 appeared to have some of the same aspects of other mystery movies from this network. But, because I enjoy watching the mystery films on Hallmark’s second channel, I decided to give this movie a chance. Was this film as enjoyable as Pearl in Paradise? The only to solve this mystery is by reading my Mystery 101 review!

mystery 101 poster
Mystery 101 poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Mystery+101.

Things I liked about the film

  • The acting: The cast in Mystery 101 was one of the best parts of this film! As I said in my introduction, Jill Wagner’s and Kristoffer Polaha’s involvement in this film was what excited me about the project. Their performances did not disappoint, as both of their talents appeared very natural and believable on-screen. I was also impressed by the acting performances of the supporting cast. I was pleasantly surprised to see Preston Vanderslice within this film. I’ve really enjoyed his performances in other Hallmark productions, like Cooking with Love. His portrayal of Amy’s teaching assistant, Bud, was very good. I also liked Andy Thompson’s portrayal as Eldon, the university maintenance employee. His performance was so memorable, I’m still thinking about it as I write this review.

 

  • The on-screen chemistry: Because of their on-screen chemistry in Pearl in Paradise, I had a feeling that Jill Wagner and Kristoffer Polaha could also have on-screen chemistry in Mystery 101. Like their acting performances, Jill and Kristoffer’s on-screen chemistry did not disappoint either. Anytime Amy and Travis interacted with one another, it always came across realistically and convincingly. The banter between them was good to hear and the situations they were a part of were interesting to see. If this movie is the start of a new series, seeing Amy and Travis’ relationship grow will be something to look forward to.

 

  • The mystery story: In most mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, there are one or two mystery stories within the overall film. In Mystery 101, there were four mysteries within this movie’s narrative. This was a creative and ambitious approach, trying to do something different from the other movies on the network. Having more than one mystery with the film’s story allows the audience to stay engaged in what is happening in the narrative. It also made for an interesting interactive experience.
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Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • A slower pace: Throughout Mystery 101, the pace was on the slower side. It almost seemed like the film wanted to take its time with each mystery instead of being as suspenseful and fast-paced as possible. It didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the film, but it was something that I noticed.

 

  • A delayed start of the mystery: As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, I feel that a film’s mystery should be introduced within the first few minutes of the movie. However, the mystery in Mystery 101 was introduced toward the end of the film’s first 20 minutes. I understand that this is a first movie to a potential new series, meaning that the film’s first few minutes are crucial to setting up the world of the overall series. But I still feel that this film’s mystery should have been introduced within the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film. This way, the story could have jumped right into the mystery and the audience could have started their mystery-solving journey a lot sooner.

 

  • Some of the mysteries not connecting with other mysteries: I won’t spoil Mystery 101 if you haven’t seen it yet. But some of the mysteries within this narrative didn’t connect with the other mysteries in this movie. Out of the four mysteries that were introduced in this story, two of them were stand-alone mysteries. They kind of felt like they were there just for the sake of being there. If Mystery 101 becomes a new series and continues to include more than one mystery in their films, I hope these mysteries have some connectivity with each other.
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Library image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stack-of-books-on-library-desk_2509490.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/school”>School image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Like Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, Mystery 101 was a good start to this specific series. But, after watching Mystery 101, I liked this movie more than Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness. When comparing the two stories, I think that Mystery 101’s story had more creativity to it. The very idea of having more than two mysteries being explored within one movie is something that isn’t often seen on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. It’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for Mystery 101 in the future. Even though Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films, to a certain extent, seem to follow a formula, it looks like the network is putting in a good amount of effort to create movies and series that are unique and creative from each other. Hopefully, these efforts can continue as new series are welcomed and returning series come home.

 

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen Mystery 101? Would you like to see this series continue? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness Review

Though Hallmark Movies & Mysteries doesn’t have seasonal themed line-ups like Hallmark Channel does, they have not wasted any time in starting their mystery movie series for 2019. After two wonderful months of Christmas movies, the mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are such a welcoming sight to see. For the first movie of this new year, Hallmark’s second network decided to premiere the start of, potentially, a brand-new series: Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness. Last November, in a Word on the Street post, I speculated that Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness could be a first movie in a new mystery series. As the “Miracles of Christmas” line-up started to wind down, this speculation became a reality as Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was, indeed, a Hallmark movie. Because this film’s synopsis shared several similarities with other series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I kept low expectations for this movie. However, since this network has, for the most part, had a good track record when it comes to their movies, I chose to watch this film with an open mind. As this is the first review of 2019 for a Hallmark mystery film, let the Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness review begin!

ruby herring -- silent witness poster
Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Ruby+Herring+Mysteries+Silent+Witness

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: For the most part, I thought the acting in Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was good. During her time in the Hallmark community, Taylor Cole has primarily appeared in movies on the Hallmark Channel. This is the first time she has appeared in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film. To me, Taylor was one of the strongest actors in this cast! She embodied the character of Ruby Herring with versatility and a well-rounded performance, bringing a sense of believability to her role. Stephen Huszar is no stranger to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, with Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness being his fourth film from the network and his second Hallmark mystery movie. Just like Taylor, Stephen embodied this character in a way that appeared very natural and believable! His performance in this film was very enjoyable to watch.

 

The on-screen chemistry: While Taylor and Stephen gave a good acting performance individually, they also gave a good acting performance as a pair. Through-out Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, Taylor and Stephen effectively portrayed two people who have feelings of dislike/like between each other. Their banter was not only well-written, but also well-delivered. Taylor and Stephen’s performances complimented one another, which I thought was good to see in this film. I hope they can appear in more Hallmark movies together!

 

The mystery: I thought this mystery story within Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was well-written! There were enough clues and suspects to keep the story satisfying. I also liked how the story was written in such a way that it leaves the audience guessing until the end. This makes the story intriguing and engaging. Having a consumer investigative reporter solving murder mysteries is an interesting idea for a mystery series, as it provides a unique perspective to a commonly used type of mystery on the network. It shows that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is putting in a conscious effort to give their series its own identity.

Journalist Reporter Profession Isometric Banner
News reporter being filmed image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/journalist-reporter-profession-isometric-banner_2875517.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/banner”>Banner vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>, Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The time stamps: In order to break up certain scenes, the creative team behind this film decided to put time stamps throughout the movie. For example, in-between the first and second scene of Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, the words “Day Two – Tuesday” appeared against a black background on-screen. At first, I thought this was an interesting concept. But, as the movie went on, it didn’t seem to add anything to the story. Overall, these time stamps felt random within the context of the movie.

 

A drawn-out story: While watching Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness, I felt that this story was a little too drawn-out. Even though the pace of this film was on the slower side, the story itself seemed like it went on longer than it might have been intended.

 

Lack of subplots: As I’ve already mentioned, I really liked this film’s mystery story. It also served as the film’s main plot. But this plot was the only one within the entire movie. Personally, I couldn’t find any substantial subplots while watching the film. Yes, there was a wedding and a baking convention that was brought up within the film’s narrative. However, it felt like these events only served the main plot and didn’t have their own stories to tell.

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Newspaper image created by Zlatko_plamenov at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/newspaper-mockup_1386098.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Zlatko_plamenov – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness was a decent film. However, it was a good start to this particular series. Ruby Herring Mysteries has the potential to be a strong mystery series, like Garage Sale Mystery and the Aurora Teagarden series. Who knows? Maybe there could be a Ruby Herring month! While Hallmark hasn’t made any official announcements yet about any more movies within this series, there are more mystery movies that are on their way on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries! As of January 2019, there are six new mystery movies that have been officially confirmed for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries premieres. While most of these movies are brand new series on the network, only one of these movies is a continuation of an already established series, which is Emma Fielding Mysteries: More Bitter Than Death. As I fan of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I am grateful that this network continues to try their best at not only making good mystery movies, but also quality mystery series that are worth celebrating.

 

Overall score: 7.1-7.2 out of 10

 

Have you seen Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness? Which mystery movie are looking forward to seeing? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

 

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire Review (Halloween Double Feature Part 1)

Happy Halloween! Just to let you know, there will be spoilers in this review.  If you want to read this Double Feature’s introduction, visit this link:

My Halloween Double Feature: An Introduction

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A DVD of The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
  1. In your introduction for this double feature, you mentioned that both Queen of the Damned and The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire were released in 2002. Can you think of anything from around that time period that could have influenced the creation of this film?

When Hallmark Channel began in 2001, the network didn’t have a strong identity like they do today. Because The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire was released the year after Hallmark Channel’s start, the creative team behind this film seemed to have more creative freedom on this project than they would have if it were made in recent years. With this creative freedom, the film was able to explore themes that are normally not found in Hallmark movies, such as various belief systems and raising awareness for endangered species.

 

2. Were you able to follow along with the story and understand what was going on in the film despite not having read the source material?

Absolutely! The thing about The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire is it’s written in a way that made me feel like prior knowledge of the source material wasn’t necessary to enjoy this film. From what I know about the Sherlock Holmes character and series, the stories seem pretty straight-forward. The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire was, for the most part, isolated from the other movies in this particular series. This makes it a good movie to introduce someone to Sherlock Holmes, as the film doesn’t make you feel like you have to watch them in a certain order.

 

3. Was your pre-movie thought addressed?

Because there were no legitimate vampires in this movie, my pre-movie thought was not addressed. The closest thing to vampires in The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire were vampire bats.

 

4. Were you right or wrong in your pre-movie prediction?

I was so wrong in my pre-movie prediction {face palms embarrassedly}. As I mentioned in answer #3, there were no vampires in this movie.

 

5. Within your pre-movie thought for The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, you talked about how a film’s title can act as a promise to a film’s audience. Do you think the title of this movie was deceiving or honest?

It’s actually a little bit of both. On the one hand, most of the characters truly believed there was a vampire on the loose. On the other hand, as I’ve been saying, there were no vampires in The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire. If anything, this film’s title bent the truth.

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Magnifying glass and fingerprint image created by Alvaro_Cabrera at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/loupe-over-a-fingerprint_853908.htm’>Designed by alvaro_cabrera</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Alvaro_cabrera – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

6. Because The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire was released before the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel (formerly known as Hallmark Movie Channel) began, do you think there was anything within this film that could have influenced future films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries?

I believe The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire was one of the movies that helped create the foundation that today’s Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films use in their stories. The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire is a murder mystery, which is the same type of mystery story that a lot of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films choose to adopt. In terms of specifics, Watson and Holmes use autopsy reports to solve their respective mystery. This reminded me of how Jennifer Shannon, in the Garage Sale Mystery series, relies on Tramell’s autopsy reports to help her solve the case. What surprised me the most was that The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire takes place during the Christmas season. The only Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film that is set during Christmas is Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery. I’m hoping Hallmark can have more of their mystery movies take place during Christmas, so that fans of the mystery series can solve mysteries year-round.

 

7. Did you acquire any new thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?

Yes I did! Here are a few of them:

  • As I mentioned in answer #1, the theme of various belief systems was explored. In The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, every character believed in something. For instance, Sherlock Holmes believed in logic. It was interesting to see how these different belief systems correlated with each other to propel the story forward and help the characters solve the case. An example of this is how Holmes’ belief in logic and Dr. Chagas’ belief in knowledge and awareness of vampire bats were used together to not only prove Dr. Chagas’ innocence, but also to find the culprit.

 

  • As I also mentioned in answer #6, The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire took place during the Christmas season. While the Christmas theme, in this movie, did not have anywhere near as strong of a presence as in Hallmark’s Christmas movies today, I found this choice to be very interesting. When one thinks of what could be found in Christmas movies, the subject of vampires doesn’t normally come to mind. This shows that the concept of vampires can be incorporated into almost any type of movie in almost any time of year. This also shows how Hallmark thought outside-the-box when it comes to their Christmas movies.

 

  • There are very few Hallmark movies that feature characters with disabilities. Even fewer Hallmark movies feature protagonists or significant secondary characters who not only have a disability, but who also contribute to the film’s plot. In The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, Sister Helen, one of the sisters who lived and worked at the church, is blind. However, she didn’t let her disability stop her from helping Sherlock Holmes find the guilty individual and continuing to carry out her congregation’s mission of sharing their faith with the community.

 

8. In The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, did anything stand out to you, whether for better or worse?

For the better, I really think the camaraderie between Holmes and Watson was a highlight of this film. Matt Frewer’s and Kenneth Welsh’s performance was very natural and convincing, making their characters appear like they truly got along with each other. As I was watching this movie, I realized that this camaraderie is the foundation for all of Holmes’ interactions and relationships. If it was not for the believability of the camaraderie between Watson and Holmes, the other times where Holmes interacts with various characters would probably not feel believable either.

 

Now, for the worse, something that I felt was missing from this movie was humor. I’ve mentioned before on my blog that Hallmark incorporates humor into their mystery stories to give their audience a break from the darkness and sadness of the murder mystery. Since, in this movie, there were seldom moments of light-heartedness or humor, the audience isn’t able to take a break from the darkness of the murder mystery and the spookiness of the vampire theme. I don’t know if there is humor within Sherlock Holmes stories, but I’m pretty sure Hallmark could have added some light-hearted moments that would have be more in line with the tone and time period of a particular story like this.

 

9. When people talk about their favorite Hallmark movies or Hallmark movies that they like, no one mentions The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire. Why do you think the majority of Hallmark’s audience isn’t aware of this movie’s existence?

This movie is not available on Hallmark Movies Now and, as far as I know, it has never appeared on any of Hallmark’s networks. Because of this, Hallmark hasn’t given their audience an opportunity to see this film.

 

10. After watching The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, what is the one thing you can take away from this movie viewing experience?

Well, for one thing, The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire is a different film from what is usually found on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This is because the movie is dialogue heavy, with few moments of suspense and action. However, I do this is a good movie. As I mentioned within this review, I think this movie is a good introduction to Sherlock Holmes. I also think this is a good introduction to mystery stories from Hallmark. In a time when Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is thriving with their mystery series, I believe it’s important for Hallmark fans to be given the chance to watch the films that helped these stories be what they are today. After I watched The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, I gained an appreciation not only for Hallmark’s mystery movies, but also for the foundation that was set in place so these movies could be as entertaining and intriguing as possible.

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Happy vampire image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/several-vampires-ready-for-halloween_1317599.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/party”>Party vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

My Halloween Double Feature: An Introduction

On October 12th, when I published my review of Without a Trace, receiving 35 followers was not the only achievement that I accomplished. That review became my 100th post on 18 Cinema Lane! Because this post came just weeks before Halloween, I decided to celebrate this accomplishment by coordinating a double feature in honor of the holiday! If you read my post about my Top 5 Dream Double Features at the Cinema, you might already know which two movies I would choose to review around this time of year. But, I’m still going to share with you what movies I picked, why I picked them, and I’ll elaborate on how I’ll set up both reviews.

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Scary movie screening image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/small-skeleton-with-popcorn-and-tv_1323292.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

It all started when I came across the MsMojo video, ‘Top 10 Movies Based on Books That Need a Do-Over’. During this video, the announcer talked about the film, Queen of the Damned, with clips from the movie being shown while the announcer explained the film’s placement on the list. When I first watched this segment of the video, all I could do was ask myself, “What the heck did I just watch”? because of the video’s assortment of movie clips appearing bonkers to me. Since curiosity got the best of me, I researched this movie to see if it was truly as bad as the announcer made it seem in the video. While on the internet, I looked up about 20 bad/worst/disappointing movies and/or sequels lists to see where Queen of the Damned placed. To my surprise, Queen of the Damned only appeared on four of these 20 lists. Out of those four, Queen of the Damned never placed in any of the top spots. For example, on a list of the Top 10 Most Disappointing Movies of All Time, Queen of the Damned was listed at number 38. I even looked at a list of Golden Raspberry/Razzie nominees and I discovered that Queen of the Damned was never nominated. With my curiosity still present, I looked through the comment section of the MsMojo video and at blogs on WordPress to see what other movie viewers thought about the film. Although it appeared that few people were talking about Queen of the Damned, most of the responses that I came across were genuinely positive. Even though there were also negative responses about the movie, most of them that I found were about Queen of the Damned not being a good book-to-film adaptation. All of these positive responses inspired me to ask the following question:

 

When one watches a film purely as a film, not as an adaptation, can that film contain its own merit and entertainment value?

 

This question is what I’ll be attempting to answer during this special double feature. Since this is a double feature, you’re probably wondering what movie will be paired with Queen of the Damned. I happened to find it while I was putting together my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time. When I was creating that list back in June, I realized there were a lot of Hallmark movies that I have never seen. The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire was one of them. While learning more about this movie, I discovered this film and Queen of the Damned share some similarities between each other. Not only do both films discuss the subject the vampires to a certain extent, they were also released in 2002 and are both considered non-canonical representations of their literary source material. Now that I’ve gotten this lengthy, but necessary, explanation out of the way, I’ll now talk about how these double feature reviews will be set up. Instead of my usual format for writing movie reviews (Introduction, Things I liked about the film, What I didn’t like about the film, My overall impression, Overall score), I will answer a list of ten questions that I have created. These questions will help in my attempt of answering this question, as well as help me think about these films more critically. As I mentioned in my review of Christine, I don’t review rated R films often. However, because I feel that by talking about Queen of the Damned, I have an opportunity to add something new to this particular cinematic conversation, so this movie will be an exception.

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Happy vampire image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/several-vampires-ready-for-halloween_1317599.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/party”>Party vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Before I finish this post, I will list some pre-movie thoughts, questions, and predictions. Each movie will get its own section and I will reference everything I talked about before the movie in my reviews. My pre-movie thoughts, questions, and predictions are the following:

 

The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire

Pre-movie thought: My biggest hope is that in The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, there’s at least one character who’s a legitimate vampire. When it comes to movie titles, there are times when a film’s title can act as a promise to a film’s audience. For instance, when Marvel decided to give Avengers: Infinity War that specific title, they promised their audience that the Avengers were going to show up in their film.

 

Pre-movie prediction: As Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson try to solve the mystery, they come across an actual vampire. Thinking that they’re the culprit, Holmes and Watson take the vampire in for questioning. While they question the vampire, they learn that the vampire is on the same mission as Sherlock and Watson: to figure out who is committing crimes in the neighborhood. Sherlock, Watson, and the vampire work together to solve the crime, while Sherlock and Watson gain more knowledge and appreciation for the vampire community.

 

Queen of the Damned

Pre-movie questions:

  1. I’ve read that in the Interview with the Vampire film, Lestat gets burned alive by Louis. However, within the movie clips from the aforementioned MsMojo video and the Queen of the Damned trailer, it appears that Lestat not only survived this incident, but also doesn’t appear to have any physical evidence of ever having been burned. How exactly was this possible? I’m hoping that one of the characters in Queen of the Damned explains this possibility, even if it is a brief explanation.

 

2. One the biggest criticisms I’ve read about the Queen of the Damned film is that Lestat and Jesse choose to pursue a romantic relationship with each other, despite the fact that these characters never have any type of relationship in The Vampire Chronicles books. If Lestat and Jesse love each other enough to choose to pursue a romantic relationship with each other, then how come it appears, in the Queen of the Damned trailer, that Lestat is trying to pursue a romantic relationship with Akasha? This leads me to bring up my pre-movie prediction:

 

Pre-movie prediction: Lestat’s affection for Akasha is all an act. He is trying to distract Akasha so that the other vampires in that particular vampire world can create and execute a plan to defeat Akasha. This entire plan that I just mentioned was all Jesse’s idea. It would make sense because, from what I’ve heard, Jesse is a vampire expert, so she would know how to defeat a vampire.

 

  1. Are Jesse and Akasha in love with Lestat or are they in love with the idea of being in a relationship with him? For instance, does Jesse see Lestat as a potential significant other or something to brag about?

 

Both of these reviews will appear on 18 Cinema Lane closer to Halloween, so stay tuned!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to check out the references I mentioned in this post you can type in “Top 10 Movies Based on Books That Need a Do-Over” into Youtube’s search bar and visit this link:

https://www.thetoptens.com/the-most-disappointing-movies-of-all-time/ (I just want to let you know, there is some language and rated R movies on this list)

Take 3: Without a Trace Review + 35 Follower Thank You

Because I received 35 followers on 18 Cinema Lane earlier this week, it’s time for me to review a film that turned 35 years old in 2018! While looking at my options for which film to watch, I came across a film from 1983 called Without a Trace. After reading the movie’s synopsis, I became intrigued by the mystery aspect of the film. As a fan of the mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I do enjoy a story that is intriguing and engaging. My interest for Without a Trace grew when I discovered that it was loosely based on a true story. I was curious about how this real-life event would influence the film. Keep reading to see how I feel about Without a Trace!

Without a Trace poster
Without a Trace poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Without_a_Trace.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The whole cast in this movie was good! Kate Nelligan’s portrayal of Susan Selky was definitely one of the highlights of this film! Her performance was so emotional and versatile, that it felt like her character’s emotions were being transferred from her own personal feelings to the audience, allowing viewers to worry about Alex’s fate alongside Susan. I also thought that Kathleen Widdoes’ portrayal of the psychic, Ms. Hauser, was captivating and memorable. Kathleen’s acting talents were so versatile, it had the power to keep viewers engaged in the events happening on-screen.

 

The story: The basic premise of Without a Trace is figuring out what happened to Alex Selky. This story is treated like a mystery, where anyone could be a suspect and every possibility is explored. The way this narrative is written allows the audience members to solve the mystery alongside the characters. Because there are few scenes that feature Alex, it encourages viewers to ask “whodunit” and keeps them engaged as the story unfolds.

 

Comparisons and differences between the early ‘80s and today: Because this movie was released in 1983, I knew there was going to be some differences between the depicted world in the film and the world outside the film today. However, I was surprised by how many of the film’s topics were those that are still being brought up 35 years later. In a scene where Alex’s parents and Detective Al Menetti are being interviewed by several journalists, one journalist asks Al if Alex, a 6 year old child, was too young to be walking to school all by himself. As I watched this film for the first time in 2018, I found myself asking this exact same question. It was also interesting to see and hear how things appeared differently in the early ‘80s compared to today. In one scene, Jocelyn, Susan’s friend, asks Susan why the police aren’t using computers to solve missing persons cases. Because computers have a larger presence in society now than they did 35 years ago, I would have assumed that most crimes are solved with the use of computers. But, it stood out to me how the screenwriters were thinking that far ahead into the future at how some situations, such as those found in Without a Trace, could be improved upon.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of suspense: When I first read the synopsis for Without a Trace, I was expecting a mystery story with suspense and intrigue throughout the film. While this movie did have intrigue, there was very little suspense that was found. There was such a lack of suspense that it made the characters appear like they didn’t have a sense of urgency. This is not a good thing, especially when a film’s plot revolves around a kidnapping.

 

The run-time: Without a Trace is a 2-hour long film. This caused the movie to contain scenes that felt like were included just for the sake of satisfying this run-time. This run-time also made the movie feel longer than it was probably intended. Personally, I think that Without a Trace’s run-time should have been an hour and 25 to 30 minutes. This way, it would allow the story to be more suspenseful and keep the intrigue going throughout the film.

 

The pace: Without a Trace’s pace was slow. This pace made some scenes drag on longer than they might have been intended. It was also the result of a longer run-time, where these scenes were possibly drawn out to fill Without a Trace’s 2 hour long time-frame.

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Newspaper image created by Zlatko_plamenov at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/newspaper-mockup_1386098.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Zlatko_plamenov – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Without a Trace is an ok film. Yes, this movie did have its flaws. However, I could tell that the effort, from the movie’s creative team, to make a compelling and thought-provoking film was there, even if that effort was not as strong as I would have hoped. When looking back on this film, I still can’t get over how some things have stayed the same. Trends change, popularity rises and falls, and style evolves. But certain subjects and messages are the things that remain everlasting. As I mentioned earlier, I knew there were going to be differences between the world of the ‘80s that appeared on my tv screen and the real world of 2018 that I’m living in today. Despite these differences, it’s the similarities that left a lasting and the biggest impression on me as I share this film with all my readers and followers. Thank you, once again, for making this review possible. 18 Cinema Lane would not be the same without you.

 

Overall score: 6.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen Without a Trace? What’s your favorite mystery story? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen