Pros: Strong mystery with a fun cast
Cons: Alex needs to make up her mind already!
The Bottom Line:
New podcast season
Alex has courtroom deadline
Must work through the twists
“I’m Not on a Side. I Just Want the Truth.”
Earlier this year, we get the first three movies in the new Chronicle Mysteries franchise from Hallmark, featuring a podcaster who gets involved in solving real life mysteries that she covers for her show. Now it’s back for a fourth entry with The Deep End.
Alex McPherson (Alison Sweeney) is ready with another season of her podcast, this time featuring a case that is at trial right now. Elliot Burke was murdered several months ago, and his estranged wife, Stephanie, is being tried for the crime. The wife claims she is innocent, and Alex’s best friend, Katie (Karen Holness), is her defense attorney, so that draws Alex to the case. While Alex is trying to follow the evidence and see where it leads, she is inclined to believe Stephanie is innocent. Unfortunately, with the trial under way, Alex needs to come up with anything to solve the case in a hurry. With the help of her friends at the newspaper, including Drew (Benjamin Ayres), can she do it?
I was very impressed with this mystery. Alex and her team uncovered quite a bit of surprises along the way to the solution. Yes, it was a case where it could have literally been anyone, but Alex does find a clue that not only makes the killer very obvious but leads to the killer confessing. Along the way, we get some good twists, turns, and motives. The climax, while over the top, was still fun.
When I said that Alex’s friends helped, I did mean all of them. Drew, as the co-star, is obviously heavily involved, but his daughter Kendall (Olivia Steele Falconer) and gossip columnist Eileen (Rebecca Staab) also get involved, providing some key pieces of information along the way. Alex’s uncle Max is out for this movie, but these four are the heart of this franchise – at least for me.
Which brings me to the one issue I have with this movie and franchise. In the first movie, it was established that Alex has been traveling a lot and is reluctant to settle down anywhere. Here we are in the fourth movie, and she still hasn’t decided to stay in town. Seriously? We all know she’s going to stick around, so can she make the decision already? Likewise, it would be nice if Drew would ask her out already, although I’m a bit more patient in the romance department, maybe because it wouldn’t make much sense for him to start dating someone who isn’t going to stick around town.
One thing I appreciated is the fact this movie showed the aftermath of murder as various family and friends are grieving the death of the victim. Yes, it is used as an obstacle to the investigation, and no, it isn’t prevalent enough to make the movie depressing. It is a nice reminder that, as much fun as I find the puzzles, murder is a sad thing, and that reminder adds a depth to the movie I appreciated. Fortunately, these are fictional characters we are talking about.
Based on the comments my reviews of the earlier movies have been getting, a lot of people wish that Alison Sweeney would go back to the Murder, She Baked franchise. Personally, I would love to see her do both. I certainly would love more Murder, She Baked movies since I’ve long been a fan of the Hannah Swensen books the movies were based on. However, watching this movie, I realized just how much I really do enjoy this franchise, too.
Yes, there is the usual light dose of Hallmark cheese, but I’m getting quite immune to it after all the Hallmark movies I’ve watched. As long as you know to expect it when you sit down to watch, you’ll be fine.
Thanks to the compelling mystery, I enjoyed The Deep End. It would be nice to have some ongoing storylines resolved, but that’s a minor complaint for a fun mystery movie.