It’s no secret that my Hallmark Movies & Mysteries related content is some of the most popular on 18 Cinema Lane. My review of Hailey Dean Mysteries: A Will to Kill has acquired over 1,000 views, making it the most popular movie I’ve ever written about! In recent days, my Aurora Teagarden reviews have garnered a large number of views. Because I was planning on talking about the newest film from this series, these viewership numbers gave me a greater reason to review Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek! In a Word on the Street story from two months ago, I discussed the likelihood of this film being removed from Hallmark’s schedule due to unfinished post-production work. While this work was eventually completed, the film moved from its original release date in April to May 17th. Despite this date change, I’m thankful this movie was able to premiere at all. Because the Coronavirus has prevented Hallmark from creating new content, I appreciate the network’s attempts to adapt to the current situation.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: A consistent strength I’ve noticed in the series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is the quality of the acting performances! Specifically in the Aurora Teagarden series, the acting has always been a highlight! Because most of the starring cast has appeared in more than one film, it allows the actors and actresses to become comfortable in that role and help their character adapt to a particular story. One of these actors is Dylan Sloane, who portrays Aurora’s relative, Phillip. Whenever he appeared on screen, Dylan always seemed at ease in his role. With a believable performance, Dylan’s portrayal made it easier for the audience to focus on how Phillip would contribute to the mystery. Newer additions to the cast also gave memorable performances, as two standouts came from Oliver Rice and Brendon Zub! I recognize Oliver from Chesapeake Shores. Since he has had a recurring presence on that show, his role as James gave him the opportunity to adapt to a variety of situations. After seeing his performance in this film, it makes me wish Hallmark would give him a lead role. As for Brendon, I liked what he brought to his role! His character, Eric, had a good persona and fit in well with the pre-established cast of characters. I’d like to see Brendon appear in more Hallmark films!
The inclusion of history: When it comes to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films, history is not often included in the story. This is because most of the stories focus on the current situations going on in a specific location. Since Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek incorporated Elizabethan history into their script, a unique identity was given to that film. It also made the project somewhat educational. Personally, I know a limited amount of information on the Elizabethan era. After hearing the explanation behind “Leicester’s Gift”, I feel like I gained more knowledge about Queen Elizabeth. While this movie doesn’t replace a history lesson, it at least starts the conversation.
The absence of the “don’t-get-involved” cliché: There have been times in the Aurora Teagarden series where Aurora is told to not get involved in a case. She is even told this after she had successfully solved more than one mystery. In the series’ thirteenth movie, I’m glad the creative team chose to not include the “don’t-get-involved” cliché! While Lynn tells her not to get in the police’s way, Aurora is never told not to solve the mystery. In fact, there is one scene where Aurora encourages her mom to continue being the voice of reason in her life. This was such a great subversion of expectations, as it gives Aurora freedom to solve the mystery but has someone in her corner to hold her accountable. This creative choice allowed Aurora to be recognized as the intelligent yet imperfect woman that she is!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Nick’s engagement proposal: In the trailers for this movie, Nick’s attempts of proposing to Aurora were heavily emphasized. This part of the story, in the film’s marketing, was highlighted more than the plot. Personally, I think this was a creative mistake. It didn’t play as large of a role in the story as I expected. But, because it was shown in the advertising, Nick’s proposal attempts felt predictable. As soon as it was introduced in the film, I correctly predicted the outcome. The proposal’s resolution also felt predictable.
A limited amount of suspense: Suspense has a consistent presence in the mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. However, some movies contain less suspense than others. This is certainly the case for Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek. While watching the movie, I noticed how the suspense was used sparingly. In my opinion, I like seeing a healthy amount of suspense in a mystery film. It helps the film maintain a good pace and it creates higher stakes for the story. Since this installment of the Aurora Teagarden series adopted less suspense, it almost gave the story lower stakes than usual. It also felt like the overall level of urgency was on the lower end of the spectrum.
Under-utilized clues: In my review of Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, I talked about how the clues were found in the spoken dialogue of the suspects. This was a unique creative choice that worked for that film. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek chose to incorporate physical clues as well as the perspectives of the suspects. Unfortunately, the script provided an imbalance between these perspectives and the clues. This caused the suspects’ perspectives to be given more attention than the clues. The majority of the clues consisted of paper, which created a lack of variety to the types of clues that were found. If the creative team knew how the clues were being under-utilized, they should have placed the clues within the dialogue like Mystery 101: An Education in Murder.
My overall impression:
As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, the Aurora Teagarden series is one of the strongest movie series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. There are movies in this series that are better than others, but I have yet to see a movie that is bad. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek was a likable addition to the series. The inclusion of history gave the project its own identity and the story subverted expectations from a familiar cliché. However, I feel there are movies that are stronger than this one. This chapter in the Aurora Teagarden story was not as suspenseful as other installments. Even though Nick proposing to Aurora progresses the overarching plot forward, it ended up being predictable because of the marketing campaign. Based on the title for the next movie, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and It Feels So Deadly, I’m wondering if Yannick Bisson’s character, Martin, makes an appearance? If Martin returns, that would provide an interesting dynamic as Aurora plans her wedding.
Overall score: 7.3-7.4 out of 10
Have you seen the newest Aurora Teagarden movie? What do you think the next film will be about? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!