Hallmark Holiday Advent 3: Christmas Murder House (Christmas Camp)


This one straight up starts like a horror movie. Career Girl is sent to Christmas Bootcamp to get her Holiday Cheer certificate and the reason why isn’t important. The Male Lead is a human cable knit sweater. The dog is named Max and he’s great. The phrase “Christmas Mojo” is used more than once.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

  • Career Girl – I don’t even know. She loves her work and they try to make that a conflict as if she’s a “workaholic” but she’s, like, a totally normal, sweet person. It’s really kinda creepy and gaslighty how they treat her
  • Handsome Sweater – son of Christmas Daddy, he eats French Toast with his hands like it’s regular toast
  • Christmas Daddy – runs the Christmas Camp but makes it feel like a murder house (see clip below) and seems super into having Career Girl marry in
  • Dog – Max, A+ dog. The one Christmas Mojo this film earns is for Max

Rating: 1 Christmas Mojo out of 10

The whole thing is just weird and uncomfortable. Career Girl doesn’t change or learn anything and people treat her like an insane person because she’s trying to finish a project for work and get a promotion. But like, she’s not weird or cut-throat or anything and is incredibly sweet and helpful. The main conflict is that the Christmas Murder House is losing money and Handsome Sweater wants Christmas Daddy to to move to the city with him. The main conflict is that Career Girl saves the Murder House by getting Christmas Daddy to franchise Christmas Camp, and Human Sweater is mad and goes all aggressive about how she only thinks about work. The bone after the paid military promotion character shows up and everything is fine. They put pies into a box sideways at one point. Like, standing up on their sides. Everything about this one (produced by MarVista) is awful and creepy. Almost every single pop arrangement of the Christmas carols are grating. They have snowball target practice. Richard (my husband) and I were just yelling at the screen, deeply uncomfortable.

Listen, I love cheesy movies like this, love romance novels. I’m perfectly fine with some of the goofy genre conventions or plot convenient storytelling, because it’s not really about the plot. It’s about people and conveying a certain feel-good vibe and affect, or at least being entertaining for how they rearrange the cheeseball lines and conventions around a setting. Lots of these movies feature literal magic and time travel, all kinds of stuff. Christmas Camp had no camp, as Richard quipped. The Camp was so chilled out and low key, and it made it sort of uncomfortable that the script seemed to be treating the setting as though it was from a completely different movie; a movie where the Christmas Camp was over the top and full of enthusiastic, wacky characters and the Career Girl learns to balance work with letting go and having a little fun and not being so serious all the time. You know–the true meaning of Christmas or something.

This is not a bit. There is something genuinely existentially off-putting about Christmas Camp that I’m having trouble articulating. I don’t know if it’s that the artifice of this being a movie was too obvious–with barely dressed sets, weird prop use, etc–or that without the obvious artifice the events in the movie are so unsettling and muted, subverting expectations of these types of films but not in a good way. It’s like the shock of someone break their arm and being able to see the actual bone poking out, jagged and existing in a place it should never be.

“This is the Angel Room. Isn’t it special?”

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