The Holiday Calendar tells the story of Abby, a struggling artist who inherits an advent calendar that seems to possess special powers. Will this new calendar guide Abby’s love life in the right direction?
Netflix is bringing Christmas early this year with their very own answer to crappy TV Christmas movies. With dated title fonts and cheesy motifs, The Holiday Calendar will surely work as cosy background noise for the festive season. Netflix has a seasonal itinerary all lined up, ready to take advantage of short days, cold evenings, and the human craving for something Christmassy. It is yet to be seen whether or not this festive collection will meet audiences’ festive needs, much unlike last year’s A Christmas Prince.
The Holiday Calendar tells the story of an overworked and underpaid employee. Abby (Kat Graham) works a job she hates, keeping her passion on the back burner in order to put food on the table. As the black sheep of the family, Abby is under constant scrutiny due to her artistic career choices. This soon changes when lifelong friend Josh enters the scene; as a self-proclaimed backpacker, naturally he becomes the new target of criticism.
All seems fairly conventional of a family Christmas until Abby’s grandfather gives her a family heirloom, a beautiful advent calendar passed down by her late grandmother. Day by day the calendar’s doors open to reveal unique trinkets, each depicting a Christmas feature. Abby slowly begins to realise that these trinkets represent something that will happen to her during the day. The advent calendar becomes her fortune calendar in her journey to find love.
To begin, I will say The Holiday Calendar certainly does capture the essence of daytime Christmas TV. The movie is warm and innocent but is equally as pleasant as it is mundane. With Christmas carols, Santa hats and woolly jumpers taking centre stage The Holiday Calendar certainly delivers Christmas. At its core, the story is relatively sweet and harmless but in the end depressingly plain.
It always feels harsh to criticise these kinds of movies. It would be a step too far to describe it as good, but as a Christmas movie, it’s OK. Unfortunately, The Holiday Calendar failed to inspire my Christmas spirit. There were simply too many cliches that were delivered with shabby writing and unconvincing acting. The narrative is lacklustre and the entire plot is unbearably predictable. With a love triangle as exciting as a wet sock, the characters are stale and exhausting, causing one too many eye rolls.
Quincy Brown plays love interest Josh, a positive individual who consistently goes out of his way to please Abby. Abby is played by Kat Graham, who strangely shows interest in a narcissistic egomaniac with whom she shares absolutely no chemistry. Overall the characters are one-dimensional and offer nothing in the way of diversity or growth. It isn’t clear whether it was the writing or the acting that is to blame, but the overall effect is a cheap and tacky romance.
This being said, the poor acting and the predictable story writing was actually not the most frivolous part of The Holiday Calendar. This would come in the form of the advent calendar itself. As Abby find a new ornament, she finds herself realising her calendar predicts the future. The calendar predicts the future as much as it does travel in time, with loose comparisons and shabby connections these “predictions” are nothing but self-fulfilling prophecies. As Abby opens a door on her calendar she finds a Christmas tree… she then manages to have an experience associated with a Christmas tree. Now, on how many days during December do you not see a Christmas tree? Abby was bound to run into one somewhere. These loose connections are made throughout the film and really do take away from any idea that the calendar is “magic”. It’s literally the same as reading your horoscope; be on the look out, and it will make sense somehow.
In conclusion, The Holiday Calendar was surely and unsurprisingly disappointing. The first five minutes will set the tone for the uninspiring Christmas movie, although it may satisfy some romantics and Christmas enthusiasts. As said at the beginning, The Holiday Calendar works as a casual film to put on in the background, maybe once you’ve exhausted your festive favourites but want to stay in the Christmas spirit.
Maggie has been a film critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018. Maggie gained a BSc in Film Production and Technology leading to her most notable credit for the production designer for a short film screened as part of the London Film Festival line up.