An enviable gold watch, a betrayed lover, a cold blooded murder. That’s the way the Lifetime movie “The Spirit of Christmas” opens, and while the chilling start differs from the typical frothy merriment of fun and seasonal love, “Spirit” evolves into a charming if somewhat bizarre holiday story that’s a little different from the norm.
As is usually the case, cheesy Christmas movies must feature a beautiful woman who for some unknown reason can’t seem to find love, no matter how hard she may be looking. In this case we have Kate (Jen Lilley) who looks the part of perfect partner from an aesthetic standpoint, but has put her career ahead of finding the right man. “Oh thank God!” She exclaims to her current beau as the movie opens and he summarily dumps her. “I thought you were proposing.” Kate is tasked with travelling to the picturesque Hollygrove Inn to assist with its appraisal and sale, but is quickly warned of hauntings inside the estate, the reason finding a suitable buyer has been difficult thus far.
“The Spirit of Christmas” manages to a combine holiday love story with a murder mystery, and does so in a way that never strays too far from the typical festive themes. The doubting Kate experiences some firsthand hi-jinx of the ghosts, with several scenes bordering on scary, you’ll wonder if this should have been watched two months ago.
The primary ghost reveals himself as Daniel (Thomas Beaudoin) the Hollygrove’s owner many, many years ago – a man from another century who is cursed with remaining a spirit inside the walls of the estate, but coming alive every year for the 12 days that lead up to Christmas. Kate and Daniel piece together clues as to why the deceased man hasn’t completely crossed over to the afterlife, and who or why was the cause of his murder in the first place.
“The Spirit of Christmas” boasts a perfect backdrop, with the Hollygrove Inn draped in fairy tale snow and remote countryside being a perfect locale. Despite the murder, mystery, and ghostly elements, the movie possesses enough humor to keep you invested. “This is shaping up to be the worst Christmas since I died.” Daniel states after an initial butting of heads with the feisty Kate. Or my favorite line from Daniel, which occurs after the caretaker of the Inn receives a text message from a potential lover he has been flirting with. “The modern woman’s forward nature when it comes to courtship leaves me both off put and deeply envious.” It’s obvious the 19th century Daniel has never experienced the joys of Tinder.
“The Spirit of Christmas” is pretty cliche for this time of year. Its odd mystery themed element keeps it from being ordinary but its somewhat head scratching and logic defying ending takes its grade down a peg.
by – Matt DeCristo