Plot: What’s it about?
Casey (Martha McIssac) is a young girl living in a small town, with a less than ideal family life. Her sister is in a coma and the medical bills have all but ruined the family’s finances. While her father does what he can to make ends meet, it looks like it would take a miracle to change their situation. As she brings some coffee to her father at work, Casey is hit by a snowball and out of anger, throws the hot drink against a wall. Not a great moment, but she notices the wall looks unusual, thanks to her coffee toss. She fiddles with the stain a little and creates a unique image. The coffee stain soon gets the attention of the other locals, who find it to be a religious miracle of epic proportions. As opportunities to earn some income from the miracle start to appear, only Casey knows the truth about how it arrived. As those around her, even her own father, start to see the event as something special, will Casey reveal the truth and if so, how will the others respond?
I am not usually that taken with films about the Christmas season, as they tend to either be overly melodramatic or over the top in cynicism. So when Hoax for the Holidays arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turns out, the film mixes the holiday sap with a dose of cynicism, kind of a Christmas cocktail. Hoax for the Holidays uses the typical holiday season elements, but uses them in ways you might not expect. While it takes aim at how religion and commercialism play into the holidays, Hoax for the Holidays is not trying to be as much of a grinch as I anticipated. The story is well told, but doesn’t really get into gear until the second half, when the plot starts to head home. The slow stretches are helped by an able cast, as the performances in Hoax for the Holidays are actually quite good across the board. Martha McIssac stands out from the pack, but the entire cast is rock solid. This might not be an instant holiday classic, but Hoax for the Holidays is worth a look.
Video: How does it look?
Hoax for the Holidays is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image looks good, but doesn’t quite sparkle like the best transfers do. Even so, the visuals have solid detail and I saw no errors to be concerned with. The colors look natural, flesh tones are accurate, and contrast is consistent. So perhaps not an eye opening visual effort, but this transfer performs well and the movie looks quite good.
Audio: How does it sound?
A Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is included, but the film isn’t blessed with a dynamic audio presence. Which is fine, since the movie is dialogue driven and hence, doesn’t need powerful surround atmosphere. The music makes good use of the surrounds however, which adds some welcome depth. The vocals are as clear as a bell, with no lines lost in the shuffle or too low to pick up at a reasonable volume. So not an explosive sound mix, but it suits the material and the movie sounds good. This disc also includes Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.