Okay, Garage Sale Mystery, you surprised me, literally. Following two drab installments of this Hallmark Movies and Mysteries series, The Deadly Room compensates with some proper scares. Jennifer Shannon (Lori Loughlin) returns as an antiques aficionado who runs a consignment shop with her friend Danielle (Sarah Strange) and solves murders on her down time. In the past, I’ve objected to the predictability of the cases and the gloomy tone, but this story kept me guessing longer than usual and its long shadows heightened the suspense in ways that left me feeling a little on edge. It’s no Masterpiece Mystery, but it is a quality facsimile.
Jennifer’s latest adventure in crime solving starts when her real estate agent friend Adrian (Janet Kidder) invites her to a fancy open house at a centuries old property. The value plummets when word spreads that one of the rooms is cursed. In order to reassure potential buyers, Adrian offers to sleep in “the deadly room” and broadcast the sleepover live on the internet. When she doesn’t wake up in the morning, Jennifer’s spidey sense tells her it’s not due to natural causes.
The movie dials up the suspense in both its writing and directing at just the right moments, offering an exciting change of pace for the normally staid channel. It takes advantage of secret passages and peepholes, canted camera angles, and a protagonist who starts to doubt herself just as she’s getting hot. The Agatha Christie aesthetic raises the game, and I even let out a scream, though that’s probably not saying much since my tolerance for anything scary is pretty low.
Also, like a juicy game of Clue, everyone is suspect. It turns out there are lots of reasons to get rid of a successful, single real estate agent, and the distant, younger sister who wants to control her trust is at the top of the list. But then again, it may be the gambling lout of an heir of the home’s original owners or a jealous, competitive coworker. Of course there’s always the possibility that the room is just haunted.
Jennifer’s family and friends once again tolerate her crime solving zeal, but it’s her son, Logan (Brendan Meyer), who shines in this episode. Besides supplying all the tech support, he has a sweet storyline involving a Sadie Hawkins dance. It’s not really germane to the plot but it is an engaging diversion. Let’s hope it’s a sign of even better things to come as this series progresses.
Dir: Peter DeLuise
Writer: Walter Klenhard
Cast: Lori Loughlin, Sarah Strange, Steve Bacic, Brendan Meyer, Eva Bourne, Kevin O’Grady, Janet Kidder, Brenna O’Brien, Richard Harmon, David Lewis, Pippa Mackie
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries