TL;DR – This is a film with a great set up and leading pair, but is held back by the format not fitting the story
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Growing up one of the staples of literature was the children detective novel; for some, it was Nancy Drew, for me, it was the Raven Hill Mysteries/Teen Power Inc. So it has always a bit of nostalgia for me when I get to see a new version of this genre put to screen. Well, today we have just that opportunity with Hidden Orchard Mysteries.
So to set the scene, we open as the house gets ransacked, with laptops, pearls and more taken in the theft. The next day the homeowners Mr Parker (Donovan Williams) and Mrs Parker (Kim Akia) are in the middle of a community meeting when the theft is discovered by the local groundskeeper Mr Sanchez (Orlando Cortez), and they return home to count the damage. Mystery and intrigue are afoot, so the two local sleuths Gabby (Gabriella Pastore) and Lulu (Ja’ness Tate) to get on the case to work out who robbed the Air B & B.
A film like this rises or falls on the strength of its central star/s; they are the divers of the drama and the focus of the intrigue. If you don’t care about the investigator/s, then you don’t care about the mystery, and it all falls together. This is where the film shines because I thought the team of Gabby with her flawless memory and Lulu with her gut intuition about people worked. When they were interviewing the different townsfolk and constructing the mystery were some of the best parts of the film. Setting it in a small residential community where everyone knows everyone gave all those interactions a little bit more weight. Having the mystery be about a robbery rather than something more serious was the right tone for this kind of show.
However, one of the frustrating things of the film is that there is a kernel of a good idea here, lies, betrayals, and small community gossiping, it is all there. However, it feels like there a good story here, but one that only ran for half an hour or maybe forty-five minutes. The rest of the film feels like a distraction at best or filling at worse. There were some moments where the budget showed through with continuity issues and some audio discrepancies. Also, I am not sure what age range they were pitching the film for as some elements were for very much older children, but the general tone skewed much younger. It felt like there was an excellent pilot to a TV show in here, with quirky characters and set up but you had to dig to find it.
In the end, do we recommend Hidden Orchard Mysteries: The Case of the Air B & B Robbery? Well, yes and no. You can tell that a lot of passion has gone into this film and that shines through in places where it becomes really engaging. However, there is a lot you have to get through before you get to those moments, and I am not sure a lot of people will have the patience to make it to the ending.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Hidden Orchard Mysteries: The Case of the Air B & B Robbery
Directed by – Brian Shackelford
Story by – Joyce Fitzpatrick
Screenplay by – Brian Shackelford
Cinematography by – Frazer Lockhart
Edited by – Brian Shackelford
Production/Distribution Companies – Vision Films, Flatcat Productions, Tunnel Vision Films
Starring – Gabriella Pastore, Ja’ness Tate, Davey Moore, Vanessa Padla, Donovan Williams, Kim Akia, Hunter Bills, Diane D Carter, Camilla Elaine, Ole Goode, Kevin Robinson, Edward Pastore, Jaymee Vowell, Catarah Hampshire, Carlos Coleman & Orlando Cortez
Rating – Around an Australia: M;