The title of the latest Garage Sale Mystery suggests a sexy battle royale waged under the shadow of some grand castle, and if you’re looking for some swordplay and suits of armor, this will do. But for those hoping for a little more than expensive cosplay, Murder Most Medieval promises more intrigue than it delivers. The case is standard, even if the discovery of the body is not. Points for deciding to hide the victim in a newly purchased suit of armor because that is properly creepy.
The deceased is a medieval studies professor, Dr. McNary (Ben Wilkinson), and the armor is a very pricy reproduction. After antiques dealer Jennifer Shannon (Lori Loughlin) sells it to a guy, Bill (Sebastian Spence), who lives in a Tudor/castle mashup and swordfights for fun, Dr. McNary comes calling. He hopes to purchase it for educational purposes, but Bill is not selling. When the good doctor is killed, fingers immediately point to the most obvious suspect, the butler.
But did the butler do it? The police cast their net wide in search of the killer though the focus soon turns to a disgruntled student, Tim (Aren Buchholz), who is in danger of losing his spot on the football team if he doesn’t pass Dr. McNary’s class. He has motive and a temper and he’s threatening the professor’s doctoral candidate, Emma (Siobhan Williams). The killer is never the obvious choice though, and soon another person turns up dead. Maybe the murderer is Emma or her clingy ex-boyfriend or the unhappy wife. Or maybe it is the angry jock. Or maybe, it’s the butler.
Since a good mystery is one that keeps you guessing and makes you believe that any one of the deceased’s acquaintances would be capable of murder, this movie doesn’t qualify. Like many Hallmark mysteries, it sticks too closely to a formula and doesn’t invest in the characters who are either involved in the case or trying to solve it. The characters go through the correct motions – Bill acts befuddled, Tim growls menacingly, and Emma (or modern day Daenerys Targaryen) meekly adapts – but you can swap these names with ones from any other Garage Sale Mystery. No one has a personality worth remembering, which is why the case seems so lifeless.
The characters that do give the picture color are Jennifer’s family and friends. Jennifer, I should add, is pretty dull herself. I suppose that is part of her appeal. Hallmark likes its spunky heroines, but at the end of the day they better be good family women. Which Jennifer is, and that is why she cares about her daughter, Hannah’s (Eva Bourne), upcoming class president election. Information comes to light about the opponent, putting Hannah in a bit of an ethical dilemma. The resolution turns out to be far more rewarding than watching Jennifer solve her latest case. Friend Dani (Sarah Strange) also gets a nice subplot in the form of a school reunion. Ever on the hunt for a worthy man, she thinks she may have some luck with a former classmate. At this point, I’d just settle on the non-mystery parts of Garage Sale Mystery.
Dir: Neill Fearnley
Writer: Walter Klenhard
Cast: Lori Loughlin, Sarah Strange, Steve Bacic, Eva Bourne, Connor Stanhope, Kevin O’Grady, Jay Brazeau, Sebastian Spence, Casey Manderson, Andrew Dunbar, Siobhan Williams, Aren Buchholz, Ben Wilkinson, April Telek
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries