Video Vulture: The best moments from the worst films of 2016 Part Three


There were some bad films in 2016, but I’m still determined to say something nice about them. Having already praised the goofiness of Gods of Egypt and the John Stamos-ness of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, it’s time to explore the heartwarming bleakness of Holiday Phantasmagoria/Filmed Suicide Note …


Hey, kids! Do you like your tales of Christmas miracles to be filled with clinical depression, infidelity, and grief?

Do you like your Canadian movies about the redemptive power of a magic hockey rink to be pointlessly set in Colorado, in order to appeal to American viewers? (Because Heaven knows, the only people who passionately love hockey live in the United States.)

If so, then I guess your viewing habits are kind of weird, but hey! Here’s the movie for you! And only you!

Actually, a lot of people seem to really like this schmaltzy-yet-bleak chimera of a film, since it got a rapturous reception at CIFF, but I can’t be the only one who finds this flick kind of strange. The project started out as a drama called The Night Pond (Ugh, that’s even worse) before market forces turned it into a Christmas movie. 

The story: A depressed young man hates Christmas because his best friend died last Yuletide, and goes around scowling and punching people. Then a magical hockey rink that only he can see appears, and it restores his faith in humanity, despite the fact that the only real fun he has there is playing hockey by himself. (Ghosts come to play with him as well, but those encounters upset him.)

Greedy land developers are going to bulldoze the area where the miraculous/imaginary rink occasionally stands, and our hero must bravely oppose this evil attempt to bring jobs and prosperity to his impoverished town! (Wait, what? I’m kind or rooting for the bad guys, here.)

The acting is actually very, very good (including a great turn from the always-wonderful David LeReaney as a grieving father), particularly considering the eye-rolling hokiness of the script. The settings and photography are all breathtaking, but again, the story is too soul-crushingly bleak for the Family Holiday audience, and too googly-eyed saccharine for anybody else. 


I’m in it. Seriously. See that bearded guy sitting by the wall, with the two villains looming over him? That’s actually me. I don’t have any lines; I just sit quietly during the climactic town hall meeting. 


Coming up next: Remember that movie that wasn’t good? We’ll discuss how good it was.

See you then!

John Tebbutt is the Video Vulture. He has been writing about obscure and ridiculous cinema since 1997. You can keep up with his nonsense on his website, Facebook and Twitter. You can also watch Volume 1 of his new series produced for NUTV here.