Do you have a home to go to this Christmas?
Well, then you’re a lot luckier than Emma Ashburg (Katie O. Jones), the main character of the 2018 film, Christmas Apparition!
(For the record, 2018 is the release date that is listed on the IMDb and on Tubi. From what I’ve read, the film was actually released in 2013 and its original title was The Cold and the Quiet. Apparently. the film was re-released in 2018, under a different title. As was also pointed out on the Dark Eyes of London blog, Christmas Apparition is a considerably more generic name but I can understand why the distributors went with it. Everyone loves Christmas movies but they don’t necessarily love movies about the cold and the quiet.)
Emma is a college student. The holidays are approaching and she thought that she would be able to spend them in her dorm. However, at the last minute, she’s informed by her RA that everyone has to leave the dorms because there’s a problem with the dorm’s heating system. I can relate. During my first semester of college, I lived in a dorm that didn’t have air conditioning! Luckily, we did have a ceiling fan but seriously, when it gets hot in Texas, a fan isn’t going to do you much good. My roommate and I always kept the windows open and spent as much time undressed as possible. However, that’s not really an option for Emma and, even if it was, it would probably lead to hypothermia.
As a phone call to her mom quickly establishes, going home for Christmas is not an option either. Even though Emma’s mother demands that Emma spend the holidays with her, Emma lies and says that she has somewhere to stay. Emma’s phone call is overheard by Trish (Ellen Lancaster), a wealthy woman who tells Emma that she needs someone to watch her children while she goes on her annual holiday vacation. The good news is that Emma would have a place to stay. The bad news is that Emma would have to look after Trish’s kids. However, Emma doesn’t have much of a choice so she accepts the offer.
Trish, who is apparently really eager to get away from it all, leaves the house before Emma even arrives. Emma meets Trish’s two children and she immediately starts to understand why Trish wanted to get away. Chrissy (Maura Chapelle) is a 17 year-old brat who spends all of her time on the phone and who tells Emma to stay away from her. Chrissy’s younger brother, William (Matthew Chapelle), draws compulsively but never speaks. Upon entering her bedroom, Emma discovers that someone has left a dead rat on her pillow. It’s going to be a long holiday and that’s not even considering the fact that the house itself appears to be haunted! Soon, Emma is popping handfuls of pills, having bizarre visions, and wondering why Trish never calls her back.
There’s a lot about Christmas Apparition that doesn’t make sense. The film’s final few minutes are so muddled that I’m still not really sure what was actually going on with the house or Emma. Usually, this would be a huge issue but Christmas Apparition is a horror film so it can get away with not always making sense. What the film lacks in plot coherence, it makes up for in atmosphere. The house is genuinely creepy and Katie O. Jones is a sympathetic lead. It’s a creepy film that will make you thankful that you have some place to spend the holidays.