Stream This? is a feature devoted to exploring and reviewing some of the lesser known and often-times weirder films that can be found on various streaming services. Today, Matt Morrison examines the 2021 holiday short The Mihmiverse Holiday Special.
I’ve avoided reviewing the recent films of Christopher R. Mihm out of critical neutrality. While I’ve reviewed the professional work of artists I consider friends before, there was a specific conflict of interest given that I’ve gone beyond enjoying Mihm’s films to supporting them financially.
Mihm was crowdfunding his movies long before Kickstarter and still finances himself by offering contributors a copy of the finished film, a handsome certificate and a place in the credits. Not a bad deal for the cost of a new BluRay, but you also get the warm feeling of satisfaction, knowing you are helping an independent filmmaker. It is in that spirit of giving and the holiday season that I offer this brief review of Mihm’s latest work, The Mihmiverse Holiday Special.
A quick explanation for newcomers. Christopher R. Mihm makes retro sci-fi/horror movies, which are all set in the same shared universe, dubbed the Mihmiverse. Most of the movies take place around the town of Phantom Lake, Wisconsin and show the denizens coping with various threats such as giant spiders, alien invaders and mutant monsters. Tongues are planted firmly in cheeks throughout, but while Mihm’s movies are low budget they are not low quality.
Following up on Mihm’s earlier family film Danny Johnson Saves The World, The Mihmiverse Holiday Special centers upon young Evelyn Johnson (Alice Mihm) and her efforts to save the world and/or Christmas. Recruited by the same friendly aliens her brother once helped, Evelyn must face an old enemy out for revenge, whose sinister scheme involves snowman monsters and enslaving Santa. It spoils little to reveal that things work out alright, thanks to a little Christmas magic and Evelyn’s sword-fighting prowess.
Mihm perfectly captures the aesthetic of cheesy holiday specials that inspired the likes of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Naturally, this being a holiday special, there are also some wonderful commercial parodies for various Phantom Lake products and businesses. These include a recruitment ad for the Phantom Lake Canoe Corps and a toy called the Stick-Thing, which the ad promises is not secretly an alien that wants to eat your soul.
My only criticism is that I fear this special may be inaccessible to newcomers. At the very least, established Mihmiverse fans will get more out of it, appreciating the knowing nods to earlier movies. Yet the Mimiverse Holiday Special is blessedly free of awkward musical numbers, so those who are new to the franchise will not be left as bewildered as anyone watching the Star Wars Christmas Special.
The Mihmiverse Holiday Special is now available to purchase or rent on Vimeo.
[FULL DISCLOSURE – The author of this review is a contributor to The Mihmiverse Holiday Special and has received no special considerations. The author was not asked for a review in exchange for any special favors or threat of having his soul taken by an alien entity posing as a harmless Earth toy. Not that such a thing is real. ]