Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good locked room mystery
Cons: Garage sale element minimal at best, usual Hallmark cheese
The Bottom Line:
As garage sale plots lessen
Best yet in franchise
Is the House Cursed?
It appears that the most successful of Hallmark’s cozy mystery movie franchises (at least so far) is the Garage Sale Mysteries starring Lori Laughlin. So far, I’ve felt the first two were rather weak mysteries, but The Deadly Room, the third, ups the game remarkably.
Jennifer Shannon’s (Lori Laughlin) friend Adrian (Janet Kidder) has gotten the real estate listing of a life time. Adrian has been hired to sell an old colonial house in town that has been recently restored. She is having an open house/party to show off the restoration, and she already has several offers above asking price.
However, the next day, those offers are withdrawn when the rumor gets out that the house is cursed and anyone who spends the night there will not be alive in the morning. In an attempt to disprove the rumors, Adrian sets up an overnight web cam of her sleeping in the house. Only, in the morning, she is dead. While the police think it was natural causes, Jennifer isn’t buying it. Can she prove that a murder took place?
What you have here is a variation on the locked room puzzle, and Jennifer spends much of the movie proving just how a murder could have happened. How did the killer do it and avoid the web cam? The plot wonderfully answers those questions and provides us with a murderer that actually surprised me as well. In other words, the plot was much better than the first two.
Of course, the garage sale aspect of the franchise is pretty much forgotten here. Oh, we get some scenes in the store that Jennifer runs with her friend Danielle (Sarah Strange), and Jennifer’s college age daughter, Hannah (Eva Bourne), who was missing from the second film, is back and just starting to work there as well. But that lack of “garage sale” was a minor issue for me.
Eva Bourne is the second member of the Shannon family to be recast in the franchise. Yes, Steve Bacic is back as Jennifer’s husband Jason here, and I found Jason and Jennifer’s interactions better than the second movie this time around. My favorite of the supporting family members continues to be son Logan (Brendan Meyer who has not been replaced yet), whose tech skills help solve the murder and who gets a very sweet sub-plot again.
Of course, this is a Hallmark movie, and the usual cheese is in evidence here again. Although I must be getting used to it since I’m finding it less noticeable the more of these movies I watch, even when I take more of a break between them like I did this time around.
The stronger mystery that kept me guessing makes The Deadly Room a nice step up for the Garage Sale Mystery franchise. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to these characters next.