‘A Christmas Mystery’ Review: A Classic Mystery to Bring on the Christmas Spirit

The Christmas spirit is here, but sometimes it needs a bit of help to get people in the mood to embrace it. For this to happen, there is nothing better than a good Christmas movie, a simple one that can remind you of the important things in life, health, family, love, and friends. A Christmas Mystery is just the latest movie to offer this to the audience looking for some Christmas entertainment, and it does so by bringing closer the genres of family drama and detective mystery. Let’s review A Christmas Mystery now available on HBO Max.

A Christmas Mystery is a film directed by Alex Ranarivelo and stars Violet McGraw, Eddie Cibrian, Christoph Sanders, Drew Powell, Lauren Lindsey Donzis, Beau Bridges, and Oscar Nuñez. The film tells the story of Violet Pierce, the sheriff’s daughter. When her best friend’s dad gets accused of stealing the most important item in town, Violet takes the case upon herself, and the fact that she is only eleven years old will not stop her until she solves the mystery.

A Christmas Mystery doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Christmas entertainment. Most of the movies that can be found in this genre focus on themes like family, and the importance of helping others during tough times. The same can be said for A Christmas Mystery. The movie doesn’t really need to sell itself in any other way and as a tiny movie about a very innocent crime, it works. This is also a kids’ movie, as the main cast is basically composed of little kids and teenagers, so you can trust to let your kids watch if you have the chance.

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Now, building a compelling mystery is much different from doing a Christmas movie. Ranarivelo also pens the script, and he decides to go for a small crime and a small mystery that can really ruin one person’s life. So, the stakes are high, even when the crime itself shouldn’t be something big to talk about. The script also tries to build the mystery and resolve it in the most logical of ways. Yes, there are a couple of coincidences here and there, but nothing major that detracts from your enjoyment.

The mystery wouldn’t work without the main character of the story, Violet. A young and precocious child that knows better than most adults around her. She also seems to be exceptional when it comes to gathering clues and following evidence. She is the sheriff’s daughter, and it seems some of his has passed to her. Most precocious characters can feel a bit annoying in both movies and television, even in books. However, Violet manages to be both endearing, and innocent enough that she still feels like a child. A very smart child, but a child nonetheless.

She is surrounded by a group of characters that includes her best friend, Kenny; her older sister, Maddie, and Kenny’s older brother, Harrison. All the actors do a good job in these roles; they are not the most fleshed-out characters, but they are only there to support Violet in resolving her case. However, the character of Kenny feels completely useless, and taking him out of the movie wouldn’t change a thing. It is a shame because she is supposed to be Violet’s best friend and her direct connection to the case, but it just falls flat. Harrison alone would have been enough.

In terms of visuals, the movie doesn’t really do much. The director seems to be content with pointing the camera at the actors and letting them do their thing. Not all movies need flashy visuals, but it is a visual medium, so it can feel like there are many missed opportunities here. Especially when talking about a movie that dwells on the mystery genre. The director can use shadows and ambiance to add atmosphere and intensity to the film in ways that are unique to that genre. It is still a fine-looking film, but it could have gone the extra mile in this aspect.

There are some other aspects of the movie that feel a bit ridiculous. But they don’t really matter because the mystery and the message are strong enough that the movie can pass as one of the best Christmas offerings on any streaming service right now. Trust me. As someone who has been watching a lot of Christmas movies recently, A Christmas Mystery has a level of quality that I wish all those movies could have. It might not be a must-watch, but it does what it intends to do and does it well.

In the end, A Christmas Mystery offers something different when it comes to seasonal Christmas movies. Most of them focus on romance or miracles and stuff like that. A Christmas Mystery focuses on family and the importance of supporting each other, typical stuff, but it is well executed. Violet McGraw stands out in the main role, and because the movie knows to not overstay its welcome, it is a small commitment and a good time in the Christmas season.

SCORE: 7/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.