A free-spirited young woman who’s afraid of commitment is hired by a career-driven single dad as a temporary nanny for his two young children. As Halloween approaches – and she and the children bond – she finds herself also becoming drawn to their dad, and wondering whether to run or finally give commitment a chance.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: While I shall endeavor to keep this review spoiler-free, there are no guarantees in this world. So proceed with caution if you are concerned about spoilers, but otherwise, please read on.
Permit me to begin by making a comment on the story line and writing of this film. When I choose to watch a Hallmark film, I typically know exactly what to expect. Oftentimes the script is somewhat above average, and the acting can be anywhere from average to outstanding. In fact, I don’t always pay attention to the script as it often takes a backseat to the chemistry and prowess of the actors on screen. I am pleased to report that October Kiss is a gratifying exception to this “rule.” In fact, allow me to state that this is (in my humble opinion) one of the choicest Hallmark movie scripts I’ve “seen” in awhile. The writing is absolutely exquisite, intelligent, and downright adorable at times. I can only hope that the powers that be will allow Mackenzie Austin, the credited writer, to write many more scripts for Hallmark in the future.
There is nothing like children at Halloween time as everyone tends to return to their childhood on that day. The plot only thickens when children who are reticent about the celebration of this spooky holiday are gently lured by an imaginative nanny to reawaken their love of this season. Hannah and Kiefer are fairly new to the world of acting, but both are enchanting as these bereft children. They play off each other so well you would almost declare that they are brother and sister. Indeed they are naturals, and I am quite certain we will be seeing plenty more from both of them in the future. (Oh, and Hearties will no doubt recognize Kiefer as Ephrim / Ephraim Noonan.)
No stranger to Hallmark nor films/television, Miranda Frigon plays the “rival” girl, Abigail.
Undoubtedly her reputation precedes her, and I was incredibly thrilled to see her on-screen again. No matter what role Miranda is given, the audience can always be assured of a visual treatise in master acting. In this role, it is a genuine pleasure to see her portray a perceptive executive who has her sights on her co-worker. All too often, it seems that poor Miranda gets typecast as the “mean” girl (or at least in more recent Hallmark films, those are the memorable roles), but this one is a much softer lady with sincere class. Her role is small, but there is no way Miranda’s roles could ever go unnoticed. She has a command of every scene, and while she doesn’t draw undue attention to herself, the audience is aware of her whenever she is on-screen. And I must admit, I appreciate the fact that in this film, her role is a bit kinder than some in which I have seen her–good call, Hallmark.
Of course, it is this couple who is the heart of the film, and it is their chemistry and interactions that thrust the film towards its logical conclusion. But the journey to which Ashley and Sam invite the audience is sometimes tempestuous, often jarring, but always sweet. In fact, the chemistry these two have on-screen can be described as sheer amusement. Ashley plays her role as one who is freewheeling and uninhibited. In fact, her character rarely plans anything in advance, and she is almost too creative for her own good. When matched with Sam’s character, he is the perfect foil (and match) for her. Moreover, it is Poppy who draws Ryan out of his sorrow and rigidness so that he discovers exactly what he has been missing in life. He has made his life out to be so structured that he had no room for any emotion of any kind. He has become more like a robot or a computer (kind of like his chosen profession), but she reminds him how to celebrate life again.
My experience with Ashley’s talent is fairly limited, but this is a role for which she is cleverly suited. Her quick smile and offbeat adventuresome spirit shines through her character, and I do believe she has injected a bit of herself into Poppy. While I know she is portraying Poppy, the joie de vivre she displays is infectious and effortless. Whenever an actor is exhilirated about his/her role, the audience generally responds with overwhelming enthusiasm and connects on a deeper level. After all, who hasn’t felt lost and unsure about who he/she is at some point in life? I know I have, and I believe Ashley has capitalized on that in her characterization.
On the other hand, Sam is a novel actor to me. I realize that he has been in a wide variety of works that I recognize, but as I have said so many times before, I am “out of the loop” when it comes to modern television. So as I watched him immerse himself in the role of Ryan, I could so identify with the role. I realize he’s a guy, but I am one who sometimes has been known to “live” on my phone and even miss the important things in this life because I was so technologically-minded I was no earthly good. And I believe that as Sam has given life to Ryan, he has infused that well-known feeling into the part in such a way that the audience can connect with him. After all, what parent is not caught up in wanting the best for his/her children so much to the point that we occasionally forget to make memories with them?
As these four propel the film towards the conclusion, the interactions between all four are delectable and intermittently serious while still being playful. Poppy awakes something in Ryan that has slumbered too long, and the children even open up and allow Poppy in their world that has been closed to anyone for so long. No longer does Zoe have to be her brother’s surrogate mother, and they both work extremely diligently to see that Poppy and their dad come together. After all, Poppy is the one responsible for the transformation.
Without Poppy, this Halloween scene would never have happened.
And the set designer for this scene is to be highly commended. Poppy has finally rekindled the family atmosphere that is associated with the spirit of Halloween. She has become the reason for this necessary and gloriously heavenly change.
I absolutely adore the fact that the on-screen chemistry between these two is playful and rather humorous at times. There is no doubt that Ashley has injected her character with winsome qualities that make the chemistry between her and Sam’s character positively charming. Nothing is ever forced, and much of it is done through lightheartedness and humor.
Although we never doubt the ending, the focal point is the journey to the “happily ever after,” and I commend Hallmark for making a feel-good, romantically sweet film the entire family can enjoy. In fact, even my 12-year-old daughter was captivated by this film (which doesn’t usually happen–she grows weary of the love stories on Hallmark sometimes). I realize that October is drawing to a close, but this is a film that can be enjoyed at any time of the year in spite of the fall harvest and Halloween setting. I also appreciate that the Halloween theme is always appropriate and never overly scary nor filled with the devilish darkness of the holiday. I am not a huge proponent of Halloween, but this film approaches the holiday in such a way that my entire family put its stamp of approval on it.
So if you are looking for the ideal Halloween family film, look no further than this charming movie. For more information: