Y’know, considering this film’s title is called A Christmas Visitor I would’ve expected either Christmas or a visitor (maybe both) to appear. Is that naïve? According to Hallmark, it’s not necessary to include either until 50 minutes into the feature. I mean, that’s fine, Hallmark. I’ll just invite you round for dinner and make you feel bad for 50 minutes before I serve canapes. Then you’ll know.
Our story takes place around the utterly downtrodden Boyajin family. As if their surname wasn’t complicated enough, we’re talking a son who’s now dead after he went to war, and a daughter who potentially has breast cancer. (And not in a flippant The Room kind of way, this will actually affect her and is a serious issue throughout the film. That’s admirable, it really is, but it did make me feel very far from festive.) Oh, and the mum blames the dad for the son’s death, and their grief means they haven’t celebrated Christmas in 11 years. Season’s greetings!
You might think that this could be a very delicately handled film, and I agree with you. It really could- if it weren’t for the weird acting skills of William Devane. His father responds to fears in the family with sitcom ready delivery. Somehow, his concern doesn’t really come through very strongly when he’s yelling stuff like “WHAT’S THAT SUPPOSEDA MEAN?” and “YOU’LL GET THROUGH THIS”. Seriously, how is he this wooden? Thankfully, his forte of slurred forgotten Christmas lyrics is brought out in the film when he “sings” Jingle Bells, so maybe he pulled out that talent at the audition.
As if all these attempts at making you feel empathy for the family weren’t awkward enough, have a listen to one of mom’s stories! She tells the daughter the tale of how her husband proposed- by extracting the engagement ring from some random pipes in her house. Romance? I mean, there’s a certain ring to it- oh I can’t do it. This film doesn’t deserve my puns. Enough of this sadness, enter our visitor Matt. WHERE WERE YOU MATT. Was he stuck in traffic? No, he was too busy getting increasingly creepy the more he stayed with the family. He was in the same regiment as their son, what a coincidence! He found the broken piece of their Christmas ornament/metaphor, what a coincidence! He picks up all of the son’s photos and memorabilia and talks about events like he was there, what a…weird thing to do, actually. He has the same scar as the son, what a-I’m scared.
Turns out, he’s a ghost apparition of what the son might have been like. This completely poops on my theory, which was that he was a murderer or confidence trickster after their money/lies. Apart from that, everything else turns out like you expected: the daughter doesn’t have cancer, the parents do learn to forgive and like Christmas again, the film ends. Matt’s reveal is the one twist in the entire film, because it being a big snoozefest was something we could all see coming.
Rating: Ho/Ho Ho Ho.