It’s taken quite a few hours for me to get over the horrific guitar solo of a confused mailman that I witnessed yesterday, but I think it’s really made me the person I am today…. Scared, confused and hesitant to continue with this Christmas advent challenge.
However Christmas is a time of hope and today I am hoping this film can be better. Please, sweet baby Jesus, let it be better.
Two seconds in and it’s not better. A young girl is watching a woman’s woeful acting from the side of a small stage while she has some sort of nervous breakdown. Turns out she’s actually performing any one of the pieces from a Christmas Carol where Scrooge is having a nervous breakdown – and really who can blame the man.
Anyway, the young girl thinks this would be an opportune time to run off and mess with the actress’ shit in her dressing room, reciting the lines along with her, which she can hear through a conveniently placed vent.
Breakdown scene complete, we hear the woman collapse and the sounds of people rushing over to her. When the girl starts bleating ‘Mom! Mom?’ over and over again it all becomes painfully obvious. The woman doesn’t a chance because someone always dies at Christmas. In fact, I’m beginning to fear the season. Either way the girl’s mom just becomes another piece of festive fodder to add to the death toll.
In present day this girl, Miranda, is now an efficient business woman with an approach to work which is much like my own; say no to everyone, that way everyone is equal. This gets her out of any number of Christmas activities her assistant is trying to sign her up to.
At dinner with her friend we uncover more layers in the complex life of Miranda.
Miranda: “It just reminds me that…. Eventually she might have told me who my father was but she never got the chance.”
Me: “Ohhhh shiiiiit!!!!”
Miranda then gets a phone call from a Rick Torrence, who I immediately assume to be a relative of the infamous Jack Torrence, and claims he has found something of her mother’s she might want whilst he was cleaning the theatre for refurbishment.
He believes a good place to meet would be the exact stage her Mom died on because that is nice, neutral ground for them both. He hands her an old suitcase looking thing and she goes on her merry way. As she leaves there are some sheets draped over the seats in the audience that have suspicious red smears on them…. The kind of smears the body of a builder, being dragged away after Rick killed him because the theatre is his and outsiders could never understand their relationship, might leave behind. She doesn’t seem concerned anyway, shes got a box to rifle through.
Inside this case Miranda finds a jewellery box with a butt load of accessories inside. It’s a god damn Christmas miracle that they’re not all tangled up into one giant ball she will never be able to undo after all those years.She also finds a bunch of old photos, taken of herself with her mother, that all look incredibly….. new and… not aged at all… in incredible HD quality….
Glossing over this point there is an envelope hidden in the lining of the box with a pamphlet to ‘The Tempest’, a play I presume her mother had performed in. Also in the envelope is a picture of a guy dressed up as a sinister Santa, sitting on a chair with a small boy on his knee. Turning the picture over there is some writing on the back and for the benefit of viewers Miranda kindly reads it out to us. What I hear is ‘Carlton Heath Vermot’ and can’t help thinking that is an incredibly long and posh name.
Two seconds later Miranda is on the internet and proves me entirely wrong. She is actually referring a town called Carlton Heath in Vermont. *facepalm* She finds herself on the official website for the town and, at the bottom, finds an address of the photography studio in the town who supplied all of the pictures on site.
Jumping to conclusions – the hobby of all good Christmas film characters – Miranda believes she will find aaaaall of the answers to her questions at this little photography studio who may or may not have taken the snap of Santa and the miserable looking child.
Before heading off on another whirlwind adventure she fits another dinner in with her friend.
Miranda: “What does a little boy in Vermont have to do with Shakespeare in California?”
Me: “I’ve heard if you can answer that question you actually find out the secret of the universe.”
And we’re off to Vermont! Because her friend could not answer the million dollar question. The inn Miranda rocks up at has been ruined for me, thanks to film #3, and the entire thing just screams fire hazard. I don’t catch a word of the conversation between Miranda and the woman who owns the inn on account of watching the fire like a hawk, waiting for the garland hanging over it to catch alight and burnt the entire town down.
Stepping outside Miranda is most put out to find she has no signal but is quite interested in the man carrying firewood into the inn who gives her directions to the town in the absence of her GPS working. Despite the fact his hands are full she does not bat and eyelid when she introduces herself and tries to shake his hand, leaving him to struggle with his wood (heh.)
She also doesn’t bat an eyelid at the scary ass nutcracker figure on the high street, so maybe she just doesn’t register social and visual cues at all. When she gets their the photography studio is no longer in business and when asking the innkeeper about it on her return it turns out the family have all disbanded. Miranda opens up about the photo and gets slapped back in return.
Catherine: “You came all this way because of someone you don’t know?”
Me: “Alright Judgey McJudgerson. You’re the one who started this conversation.”
The innkeeper continues to put her foot in it when she plays the ‘Mom’ card and after hearing of the woman’s untimely demise (sparing the gory Dickensian details) she is suddenly more than accommodating. Apparently the picture looks mighty familiar and she is sure her husband would know more about it. Catherine ropes her son Ian in – the firewood collector – to help out Miranda and find his Dad to help solve this mystery.
Catherine: “The way Santa is dressed… We called him Father Christmas back then.
Me: “Back then when? We call him Father Christmas now. How old does this woman think she is?”
Ian gives Miranda the grand tour of town which includes the church and a bizarre tale of people being smuggled out to avoid capture, using the secret tunnel under the church that leads out into the woods. Apparently, on Christmas Eve, you can still hear them singing carols as they escaped. That’s a pretty fucking relaxed break out if you ask me.
Hoping his dad will be able to help them out, Ian takes them over to the local theatre – there are more of these then I first presumed – who was named after local actor James Whitcomb. They stop for slightly too long when she asks about this man and I’m already betting that was her Dad. Prediction #1 has been primed and ready to go.
Walking through the theatre I can’t blame Miranda for looking nervous because everything about this town is begging to catch on fire. Ian remarks his Dad should be just about ready to stop for the day and walks off through some doors and into the actual theatre…. room. My apologies for not knowing the anatomy of a theatre, I did not know this film would be so theatre-y.
Up on the stage Ian’s dad is reading from A Christmas Carol and you just know, at some point, this woman will be forced to step up and perform the role (Ian’s Dad probably dies from some festive freak accident) because she knows all of the words. Prediction #2 ready and waiting. Bonus prediction #3 for Ian’s Dad dying. Yeah… that’s the game I’m playing now to get me through this.
Miranda couldn’t bring herself to actually follow Ian into the proper stage area and so instead stands in the foyer while she listens to Ian’s Dad perform the very same part her Mom kicked the bucket to. It’s all far too much for her and she just up and leaves the building, despite the fact she has no way back to the inn and her GPS doesn’t work right now.
When Ian finds her again outside she does a good job of not really explaining anything about her past, yet still appears to be annoyed at the man when he invites her to the Christmas play. Inevitably Miranda starts doubting everything she has ever known about life and Ian has to pull out a wild card in order to make her consider staying:
Ian: “I don’t know what bought you here… but I’m glad it did.”
Me: “Why? Are there no 30 year old women in this county? Was he just going to chop wood for the rest of his life until a suitable woman checked into the inn that he could ensnare and propose to?”
You laugh but that shit happens at Christmas.
The next day, at the continental breakfast buffet, it’s hard to tell the food apart from all of the Christmas decorations and ornaments that have encroached on the table. Someone is gonna end up eating a bauble and that is not a euphemism. Suddenly a woman named Ellie shows up at the breakfast table with her two sinister children.
Small girl: “You need to drink hot chocolate with a candy cane to stir it.”
Miranda: “That sounds good.”
Small boy: “We have it every year before we go shopping for presents.”
Me: “They must be off their tits on that shopping trip.”
When Miranda goes back up to her room there is a coat waiting for her, because for some reason she didn’t expect New England to be so cold in winter. This coat has been magically provided by Ian who I can only presume chopped that down in the woods too. When she catches up with him she asks if there is an internet cafe in town she could use but instead he leads her off to his office.
Miranda: “This is nice.”
Ian: “Not what you were expecting?”
Miranda: “Not unless you’re Batman.”
Me: “…. I don’t even… know…”
Tuns out Ian was actually a lawyer but gave up on that life because he’d rather chop wood, help people write their wills and orphans find new homes. He’s festive that way.
Miranda is googling very specific search terms when Ian’s dad, Andrew, rocks up to help with her ‘quest’. Seeing the mythical Santa photo Andrew makes a weird ass noise that would have had anyone else asking ‘are you alright, love?’. On closer examination Andrew confirms that, yes, that is Father Christmas. Well…. yeah, we knew that. Are you seriously telling me, this entire time, they were merely trying to find the Dad in order to confirm the man dressed as Santa was indeed dressed as Santa and in fact Santa and Father Christmas were one and the same? Is that the tenuous story line they went with in order to give Andrew any worth!?
After this monolithic revelation Ian goes out into the town to hand out gift baskets to the locals because it’s a small town and everyone is aware that Ian’s Dad is a fucking moron! *ahem* My apologies. I was quite enraged by this for quite some time. That is until the following happened during our gift-giving montage.
Ian, opening a shop door and shouting in: “Merry Christmas, Ruth!”
*Screaming from inside the shop*
Me, dying: “I think Ruth just fell off the ladders. Women do that a lot at Christmas.”
After a busy day of gift giving, Miranda is feeling rejuvenated and is even considering staying in town and continuing her search.
Mirands fibds an empty inn with a kote pinned uo – too far away to see. Hears. Arols in the distance and almost gets mowed down by santa who bids her merry christmas as he. Hsrges past. They light up a tree which is actually lretty nice looking u like some of the trees i hqve already seen this season.
Dad dressed as sqnta so may bave secretly veen truing to off their new guest
Oh theres your mom, thats so nice of her to help. Your dad coukdnt make it?
Miranda is fu king blind
Miranfa is gonna get oissed and meets some kore quests and their husbqnds. Allie and Peter and miranda were both raised by actoes ans is this guy the bou from the picture? They reminice for all of five seconds before ian pops back up and asks if miranda wants to go carolling
I feel carolling us anoth3r of those things you might have missed out on
Thats a narrow escsor
No ku k thiugu, its like a ckbga line of csrolling. Very forward children wjo eyeball people they soeak to and hold strangers hands and tell them they shpuld live here. Im feeling some cult vibes again here. Maybe it really is like the overlook…. Once yiu check in yoi never checj out
Andrew takes a bit of a turn and o fesr there mat be another one to add to the death toll but he ibsists he is fine and off they go carolling. If anything happens yo ansrew now, this man she doesnt even know, shes going to be heartbroken. However i feel he may not be able to perform at th3 threatre and both herseld and Peter sill step ib. Prediction number 2838e639474
Back at alkies oeters family home it gets more feative
Every year it gets more festive. Oretty soon we wont have room for the furnttie
Wont even have room for th3 fire thqt start
There amongts ohitos id the same one miranda has and oreduction number one is complete. Ba k st the inn ian comes to see qgats up because he is concerned avout this guest he has known for teo seconds when she seems down.
Eqrlier ellie menti9ked my mother veing an acrress but you are the only one i told tgar
Imaging and real ian problens again
Andr3w has a leadbon the photo and knows where the ellersons are whp owned the srudio. Can get in touch and help.
Well im off to learn my lines. Only two dats to the show ans my mind has been a such siece kately
Here comes the demebtia!
Who the hell is hames 2hitconb but can meet msrgarwt his wife. Miranda still hqs a fear of th3 stage but suddenly dclares she must go home. I guess eh has syndrome where afraid if fibding out.
Miranfa finally reveqls the grim truth kf her mothers to ian whilst sitting in front of the srage because thats a sound place to be when youve just confronted her on veing nervous of th3 thrwatre. And noe comes the catch of who her fath3r could have been. Foe some reqson she shows ian the hpto but doesnt mention that she asw the ssme one in oeters house. However she does hand him ove4 a bracelent with the toens christmas angel on i cant rememeber being mentionwd vwfo43 this.
From these big jumps and conclysions we are huessing james whitcomv is her father, however seeing as james has been married to marge for 40 years that means he cheated on her. The temoest thrwatre is the whitcomb tbeatrs.
Let me help
I have tk try
Please dont feel sorry for me
Dont thibk he was feeling sorry for yoh love. I thibj he jusr wabts something else to do other than chop woof
Tuens out ketes father was alsp james. I missed some her3 as i had to relocate becaue of kieran shaving and the tv aerial being shocking. It was like the people were t4yibg to breaj out of th3 tv but i. Sure we didnt miss any particylar plit piints.
Ian turns up in a sleigh with prqncer oulling it who is a horse and not q redineer
Jstuat i. Case you wer2 wond3ring this is what they wrong the song avout?
Manplai ing 101 righr here folks
Sleighing around. Being there feels right be ausw he has a connectipn in his heart but it maybecause the inn has trapped him and his eterbal soul gorece
Andrew keeps gping around saying come ib and know me vetter man. Cath claims hes just oracticing. I think hes on a slow decline that ends with butchering all of his guests with an axe.
Turns out Peter is the biy in the ohoto and james is his father, in which case she is certain he is also her father and she must now leave because she has not substantiated this truth.
If i stay and they find oit th3 r3al seapn im here nothing would wver be the ssme for that family. Everything he did, was…. James wojld never be the swme to that fsmily
Yeah, probably best not to gice margaret a shock, she founds like she might be old and she doesnt have that many christmases left to enjoy
Ian is more concerned with miranda stayong and spending cheistmas with hom vecause if cheisymas films tesch us anything its that you can fall in love inside a week and have a fairytale marriage without knowing each others flaws.
After the woman lets him kiss her, twi e! She r3minsw gim she still has reservations yo fky out tomorrow and shes leaving regardless. So whatever ian.
Of course rhis is the time for tragedy to steike to delay her leacing and ian gets a call that his dad has been rushed to hispital. Off they rush (i hope in that sleigh) to find out andrew had a mild heart attack
What exsctly does mild mean?
The ecg shows no damage to his heart
I thinn sge should gave used cheese yo explsin it. Like th3 difference vetween parmesan and mozarella
The family and friends feel the hospital waiting room is the vest place to doscuss cancelling the chsitmas pkay andrew csn no longer take part in. When mirands tries tp put her two pennys worth in she gets shit down by ian because he remembers shes a heartless business woman who says noy to ecertone she comes across
If youre ever in the north-west….
Well thats a bit vagie, kiarana. You gonna help him out mor3?
Whilst getting r3aey to leave miranda sees it sbowing, something ian has been thrwtsning the entire time shes been there and shes lrobably gonna emget snowed in or ger flight cancelled.
Looks like theyre rigjt, we hageng a white christmas
There has veen snownon the groind this entire time!!! Was that not friggin white ebough for gim!?
Ian takes abothrr shoy at holding miranda hostage on this mountain, reminding her that id she leaves now nothing will change because she hasnt ruoned another familieis image of theit father yet based on wild guesses and accusations.
After crying at the woman she caves and decides she doesnt n3ed to get back to the office anyway, fuck those guys. She has internet in the offoxe, she can work remotely.
Apparebtly she is srayu9ng because, besudes ian, she just wahts a family ro belong in. Now andrew and cath are trwdting all of their guests in the same way so she is under some delusion they velieve she is a daugter of theirs and i hope they keep charging her for th3 room
Ian has agreed to play scrooge and when they rock uo at the threatre pete and his mom margaret are waiting. Margaret looks like a hard ass bitch so i think shell be fine if mirana vr3aks the news. Shes probably already aware.
Here i got disteacted by a robin outside of the window who was eyeballijg me from the fence but i do catch miranda being invited to the cast party at oetes house after the show. That invite…. That woman knows ya’ll.
A merry cheistmas to everybody! I dont know wgat dat it is! I dont know antthinf!
I did have my suspicions…
Ian and miranda take part in a festive montage wgile they oracrice lines and i just feel my version of miranda playing acrooge would have been better. Maybe she still wjll be ause ian still csnt rememver his lines backstage but rhey do gave realistic fake beads here in vermont.
Village if the damned kids are taking to 5h3 stage and we get to see none of the pkay because suddenlt everyone is bowing and leke are very impressed. Im sure itbwas great.
And i told rhat dr i might not be able to acr in the show but th2r3 is nothing in the world stopping m3 drom wat hinf it
Except for those creeping cataracts we found after your hwart attack…
Miranda carcyes ian talking to margaret over the photo which caused all this controvery and is mighyu pissed. She rjns off into what looks a library and finds some short poem written bu james whitcomb
Margaret rocks up with what looks like a string of vaubles around her eck and claims the poem doesnt sound much like james, although he did uses to write. They found it aft3r he died and f4amed it and so i oresume itbwas her motu34 who wrote it to him.
Back at rhe inn ian has another strugfle on his hands eith miranda and they appear to be going to christmas dinner. She wants to know about the phito and he is quite shocked to ve accused of telling everyone her busikess but at least miranda is getting the same vibes that msrge knows.
Mirabda is vack to h3r big city office wats, douvtibf she should be here so ian pulls out a pr3wen5, another tacric to stop her from leaving. Its a replica bracelejt with the cheiatmas angel. Never fear folks
I would love to witness the rest of their lives and see what else he keeps oulling ouy.
Off we go back to marges and oeters because apparebtly thats an extensipm of the inn and we csn never meave. Julia, one child of the drad, has made a stocking for miranda at the fire
Oh julia thabn you is brwustifl
Dont thank me
Alright thenfine, fuck off kid
Aroudn dinner people a43 wuite taken with miranda but marge is just watchinf her like a hawk. Og this womab jnows.
Were you born sewttle
Born cakifornia but mived when young
Mother gor a job
Kind of job?
Like our grabdfatger
Cue the childr3n veing booted out
Marge begins asking wuestions avout her mothers name and when she finds out recites the poem. Its all out now!! Miranda tries to make an escaoe but marge is taking no prisoners.
If miranda wasnt keen on christmas vefore this certaibky isnt helpinh
My dather was also an acotr and his name was james
What did say
My mither necwr told me who hewas and neve rold me bame
Than how are you saying this shit!?!?!
Peter is piiiiisssed and orwsumes miranda wants money. Everyone goes charging after miranda when she t4ies to make a break for it but marge is more cobcerned by sayinf she has james eyes
I suspdxtes the first moment i sww you
How? How does that haooen?
It turbs out that marge was trying to divorxe the dad when he was cslled away to go and actbin the tempestm im not syre how people velieced they were married for 40 years at this point or how msrge know the stort she is now recounting.
Peter got sick with p eumonia and eve convinced james to go back home and look after his fsmily. When oeter recivered james abd marge realisrd they wsnted to save the marriage despite the fact he had got anothrr woman pregnant. James apparnrlt yold marge everythinf and she forgave him but didnt tell name
Yourmother must have loced him very very much to let him go and i dont know how she did that
Easy. It must have been heaven for her.
It also turns out that somehow james didnt know he had anothrr child even though… Marge did? Or suspected.
Marge is all forgivung apparrntly. Tpld you she was a bad ass.
Tje devils children announce ther3 are carollarrs downstairs and ian is out that door like a shot vecause thisbis fsr more than he abticipated leaving marge and miranda to share a frw wordsm i dont know what kieran srar5es hoovering.
The film ends with ian andirands up a hill in their sleigh, pretending they are not freezing their asses off and glissing over the fsct the horse that pulled their sleigh keeps disapprsring intermitrently vetween shors.
Either way miranda has apparrntly gicen up offixe life and is going to work at the inn chipping wood with ian for thr rest of thrir lices.
Anyone fancy a trip to vermont?