Netflix UK film review: The Christmas Trap
Ivan Radford | On 19, Dec 2019Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Harvey Lowry
Cast: Sierra McCormick, Brighton Sharbino
Watch The Christmas Trap online in the UK: Netflix UK
We unwrap a different Christmas film from Netflix’s dubious seasonal selection every day. For 12 days. It’s the 12 Days of Netflix.
It’s never a good sign when an American movie is released internationally with a completely different title. In the case of The Christmas Trap, which began life as Christmas in the Heartland, it’s actually an apt name switch: comes the end credits, the two-hour dirge leaves you relieved to have escaped from its clutches.
The new title also gestures towards the time-honoured premise at its core: two people from vastly different socio-economic backgrounds decide to swap places. And so we’re introduced to Kara (Sierra McCormick), the granddaughter of a wealthy oil man, and Jessie (Brighton Sharbino), the well-meaning granddaughter of a working class clan. Within minutes of them meeting on an airplane to Oklahoma for the holidays, they hatch a plan for a switcheroo, as neither want to spent their Christmas with relatives they don’t know.
The stage is set for two fish-out-of-water tales, each one destined to provide inevitable life lessons and heartwarming revelations. Will Kara begin to realise the value in a modest family that supports each other? And will Jennie realise that being rich isn’t all it’s made up to be? And will their respective families realise what’s happened before they wind up being pitted head-to-head in the local beauty pageant?
There are no presents for guessing the outcome, but what’s frustrating about The Christmas Trap is just how unconvincing the predictable formula is. The families are cartoonish depictions of opposite ends of a social spectrum, from ribs and throwing ball in the yard to sitting quietly at opposite ends of a dining table and relying on a maid who calls people “Miss” and “Sir”.
The script doesn’t ring true once, a shortcoming that becomes even more crucial when the final act unfolds, including a whole wave of family ties more laughable than they are shocking, and featuring responses to the central switcheroo that are far from any normal person’s reactions to being deceived. Throw in some overly cheesy music moments and a bizarre moment of confrontation, and you have a very strange Christmas selection box of cliches, indeed. The fact that it takes 110 minutes to unpack it all is the disappointing star atop an underwhelming tree.
The Christmas Trap is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.