White Hot (2016)
Given my mother’s partiality towards “cozy” mysteries as authored by the talents of Ronie Kendig, Lynette Eason or Dani Pettrey, it’s no surprise that I too often mind myself swept up in these kinds of stories. We often sit down together to watch the mystery movie series that Hallmark Movies and Mysteries (Aurora Teagarden, Garage Sale Mystery or the classic “Mystery Woman” with Kellie Martin) airs, and tonight, they are premiering a brand new film that could have (had it lent itself to this) very well become their next franchise.
White Hot tells the story of high-end interior designer Sayre Hoyle (Shenae Grimes-Beech). A decade ago, Sayre left her Southern hometown in Louisiana to pursue a life away from her controlling family in San Francisco, and hasn’t looked back since. Until she receives a call that shatters her world; her brother, Danny has died. Though she left with bad words between her and her wealthy and powerful father (John Schneider), Sayre returns home to honor the memory of her brother, Danny. While there, she’s flooded with memories – memories both good and bad.
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As Sayre digs deeper into the mysteries surrounding her brother’s death, danger lurks around each corner and the close-knit town (controlled by her father, Huff) might each be an enemy preventing Sayre's search for the truth. Even as she begins to place trust in her father’s disarming lawyer, Beck Merchant (Sean Faris), she discovers even he might not be all he seems.
From the moment this film opens on a spooky bayou frame, it screams “mystery.” Because of the network it landed on, the story presents a chilling mystery without being creepy or graphic. Instead, all of the out-of-frame violence or threat of it only enhances the sense of danger, which is always an ideal place to be when it comes to the art of mysteries. Keeping the audience hooked is what this script does, and heavens, this adaptation (for me) does it do this up right.
Based on the novel, White Hot, this is unfortunately the only novel she wrote about these characters or that's my understanding. But I cannot help the feeling there could be more to tell should a sequel ever be produced. Not so much because the story lends itself to “more” (the script wraps everything up in a neat albeit bittersweet bow), more because these characters are so interesting. This world was somehow a fascinating one; I liked that it was about a wealthy family who had a kind of grip on the town in a power struggle. The sets and homes are gorgeous, in part because of this world. All of the large, Southern mansions have a kind of ethereal look and quality.
Rounding out all of the “usual suspects” (what I cover in reviews) are the characters and the people who bring them to life. First off, can we talk about the name Sayre? It’s unique and I love it. Characters that are given uncommon names stand out more and that’s what helps in making them memorable. Not only did I think she was a fabulous character, Shenae also turned in a deeply emotional and conflicted performance which is precisely what her character needed. She was in mourning and through it all, was trying to fight to the truth of her brother’s death. Sean Faris (familiar to Hallmark fans, he previously starred in Christmas with Holly and The Lost Valentine) too is one of my favorite actors in a leading man role; he and Shane had great chemistry to say the least. Their relationship is a kind of tug-and-pull that keeps curious viewers glued to the screen.
Though the script gest a tiny bit muddled at times with the litany of suspects, I enjoyed this far too much to counteract any of the (over the top?) gushing I’ve just written. As someone who tires of one particular plot point involving characters who return home, I also 100% approve of the way this one ends! Bottom line, this was a smart, stylish and snazzy thriller. Put it this way, if it ever comes to DVD, I’m first in line to snag a copy but then, I’m kind of a mystery lovin’ girl.
Have you seen White Hot or read the novel by Sandra Brown? Comment down below with your thoughts! I’ve love to read them.
White Hot premieres TONIGHT on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel. Catch it then or watch it again through April 28th (check your local listings for times). Until then, have a peek at the promotional trailer below!