A Light in the Forest
|A Light in the Forest|
|Directed by||John Carl Buechler|
|Written by||John Carl Buechler|
|Based on||The Legend of Holly Boy|
by Frank Latino
|Cinematography||Thomas L. Callaway|
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A Light in the Forest is a 2003 film directed by John Carl Buechler, an adaptation of Frank Latino's award-winning children's book The Legend of Holly Boy. It stars Lindsay Wagner.
The story begins with Holly Boy rescuing the Queen and Princesses from the evil Otto before returning to the modern day where Britta, recently orphaned European circus girl, goes to live with her grandmother in Hollywood. Through her grandmother, she soon learns the legend of the Hollywoods and runs into the Holly Boy statue, a mystical Christmas spirit whose nemesis, King Otto, finally got the better of him after teaming up with Witch Hazel. Holly Boy was turned to stone until a great sadness could awaken him, and he has remained that way ever since, turning his story into legend. Now the statue of Holly Boy, which resides in the Hollywoods, waits to be awakened to uplift any sadness that comes his way. However, when he does awaken, the evil King Otto, his lackeys, and Witch Hazel are to be reincarnated for one final attempt to destroy the Christmas spirit for good. Our main character, Britta, knows nothing of this, as she has only seen his statue, but throughout her first day at her peculiar new school she manages to make friends, one of which is Gabriel, an aspiring singer/actor who plans to perform in the talent show. Gabriel helps Britta through the day, but isn't able to stop some mean girls from getting the better of her, making Britta run off campus and into the woods. There she meets Miss Audrey, a favorite teacher of the many students (who just so happens to look exactly like the Queen from long ago), her second friend. But when Miss Audrey is called away, Britta is left alone with her sadness and chooses to go to the Holly Boy statue to cheer up. With her anguish over being the new girl and the guilt of her parents' deaths hanging over her, she unknowingly brings Holly Boy back to life along with the villains of old. The villains immediately put their plan into place of destroying the Hollywoods through their reincarnated selves' wealth and power by manipulating Britta's new school talent show to make the winner one of their choosing. It is now up to Holly Boy to find a way to save the day, as he has only been spreading Christmas joy and helping Britta secretly until then. Although he had revealed himself to her not too long before to show her she was not responsible for her parents' deaths, he had taken her back in time to the day when it happened, reminding her of her parents revealing their secret. The special word "Avenla", which gets rid of all worry, already allows the past Britta to feel better right before they go on to practice for the show that night. It is during that practice which her parents lose their lives, and Holly Boy must show that the rope mechanism is what failed, not Britta. This blast from the not-so-distant past lets the present Britta finally move on, which is what leads to Holly Boy later finding her happy as she joins up with Gabriel to win the contest. However, when Britta learns Miss Audrey has just been fired by Principal Kimmel, and she happens upon the teacher crying, Holly Boy appears. He quickly figures out that the school principal has been possessed, in a way, by one of Otto's henchmen, Hoyman, and asks for the help of Britta, Gabriel, and Miss Audrey. They go to his office to find the Hollywoods merging with the school, the office having only three walls, leaves as the floor, and roots growing alongside the wall. But they stay focused on Kimmel, who arrives and immediately starts threatening Holly Boy, who not so secretly stops him from escaping when he makes holly appear and wrap around the man. Through Holly Boy's guidance, the others, rather confused, manage to free the principal from Hoyman's grasp. Then Kimmel goes on to thank and apologize to them for his actions while under Hoyman's control before informing them of the villains' plans to level the school, the Hollywoods, and more. Holly Boy (HB) tries to say it's impossible, but Kimmel explains that it's all tied to the contest; if Blair, a troublesome student and rather great gymnastic performer, wins the talent show the Hollywoods will be destroyed. Gabriel, who was counting on the scholarship prize, starts doubting and questioning if the contest could really be fixed. But before anyone can do anything, King Otto, the witch, and his minions, including Hoyman, arrive. Otto threatens the others, so HB covers them to soon be stabbed with the same spell from before cast upon the weapon. Then the witch steals Gabriel's voice right before Holly Boy turns to stone once again and they take Miss Audrey with them into the forest. Just as all hope seems lost and Britta cries next to HB's statue, he returns once again, thanks to those tears. They inform him what happened once he became stone, and he sends them off to stop Blair from winning, while he will go into the forest to retrieve Miss Audrey's and Gabriel's voices. He'll need the help of insecure Britta to win the competition, but with Britta doubting her skills, and Gabriel's voice being lost, there's no chance for them to win the talent show to stop the destruction of the Hollywoods. Meanwhile, back with King Otto, they plan to use Miss Audrey, "this generation's incarnation of the Pinetree Queen", as a sacrifice for one final ritual. However, they are stopped by Holly Boy, who comes in right in time to stop it all. With a fresh defeat, King Otto tells Witch Hazel to use her potions on him so he'll finally be able to defeat Holly Boy once and for all. She complies, turning him into a "hulking boar." While back at the Holly Jolly Jubilee, Blair stuns the audience with his talent, as they've seen only mediocre skills, at best, up to this point, by the other acts. Kimmel tells the paid-off judges that they had better pick the hands-down winner, since some already believe it's been fixed. An obvious bluff, but a necessary one nonetheless. Britta, already intimidated by Blair's performance, gets ridiculed by the mean girls once again before she goes back on stage. Using the magic word "Avenla" her parents taught her, she's ready to take her turn. Automatically, she dazzles everyone with her aerial work on the hoop, and her grace and poise when swaying with the object above the stage. It cuts back to HB and the others as Witch Hazel calls one last spell. She channels all the "powers of hell" to make Otto's staff able to strike down "all those who stand within its way". Miss Audrey/Pinetree Queen asks HB what his plan is, and he responds saying, "Let the fires of evil burn themselves out." Hazel calls upon one last burst of power, lifting the staff high into the air. She then bends it backwards, accidentally hitting the giant boar Otto with the powerful weapon. With all else said and done, we go back to Britta's performance as she twirls around in a strange position while only holding onto a single strap dangling from the ceiling. Her show, not even over, is already gaining a lot of cheers and applause. Even the mean girls join in. Once she was finished, she received a standing ovation, with the previously rigged judges forgetting their pay-off and joining in on the praise. They make it very obvious who will be winning. Everything wrapped up on that end, back with HB, Otto turns to a giant stone statue of a tussled pig before exploding in front of them all. Which releases the Witch's spell and turns them all back into the real reincarnated bodies. They gain their bearings not knowing where they are or what they're doing there as even the man Otto occupied returns in the rubble. Britta won the full scholarship, as it's presented to her by Mr. Kimmel. Suddenly, it's Christmas Day and Gabriel and his family join Britta's. There she presents Gabe with the other half of the split up scholarship as a gift to the one who got her into the contest in the first place. To top it off, they look out the window to finally see the miracle Britta's been mentioning at times in the movie. It's finally snowing in LA, and Britta and Gabriel watch from the house as the snow falls. HB can be seen standing on the base, where his statue once stood, as a holly wreath magically appears on Britta's door.
The Dove Foundation stated that it was "a fun video to watch, and is full of mystery and exciting twists and turns. It’s a mystical adventure that promotes love and caring and the Christmas spirit. However, the continuous sorcery, potions, curses and spells make it unacceptable to receive the Dove Seal." In his 2017 book How the Movies Saved Christmas, William D. Crump noted that the film had little resemblance to the original source material.
- "A Light in the Forest: Dove Family Friendly Movie Reviews". Dove.org. Retrieved 2020-09-23. Unknown parameter
- Crump, William D. (2017-04-27). How the Movies Saved Christmas: 228 Rescues from Clausnappers, Sleigh Crashes, Lost Presents and Holiday Disasters. McFarland. pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-1-4766-6488-0. Search this book on
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