Though we all…or most….can agree that film is a director’s medium even one with a good story and decent directing can be brought down by poor acting. Christmas on the carousel was never going to win any Oscars, but living up to its potential was not possible due to some awful acting by the cast. Wooden. Hammy. Unnatural. These are all the words off the top of my head which describe the performances within. The double whammy is that director/screenwriter Erik Bloomquist also stars in the film so I guess he has no one to blame but himself.
Bloomquist has largely done horror films before this one. Horror is a genre in which you can get away with bad acting. It almost welcomes it at times. When you are attempting to bring to life a story about four lifelong friends who are getting together for college winter break only to find out it is going to be their last as one of them is moving after the holiday, so they decide that the only way to mark this occasion is a lock-in at a Christmas museum. Cue a struggle over whether to reveal romantic feelings and a desire by a struggling actress to go viral on Tik Tok.
Sounds quirky and potentially funny, no? Could be a fluffy “I don’t really have to use too much brainpower” type film. There is a lot of potential here. Unfortunately, it is unfulfilled potential.
Playing central character Greyson, Bloomquist seems off-balance saying words that he himself wrote. Totally out of sync with what the role and film require. Acting is certainly not what he should concentrate on. Now, I don’t know if it is his lack of timing that throws all the other cast members off or what, but Christmas on the Carousel is totally off kilter.
Then there is the attempt of a romantic story and that washes up on shore limp and soaking as the two actors, Bloomquist and Madeleine Dauer have like zero chemistry. This leads to a lack of interest in them two getting together.
All these missteps are too bad as there are some decisions by Bloomquist from behind the camera which are strong. The sets are great. The fact that rather depressing songs make up this Christmas film soundtrack is attention grabbing and perfectly sets up Greyson’s blue mood. Finally, it is a rare Christmas film which does not fall back on the usual tropes that we have seen a million times so there is a freshness to it.