Why Krystal Joy Brown's Heaven Down Here Isn't A Typical Hallmark Holiday Film

When you sit down to watch a holiday movie on the Hallmark Channel, you probably have an inkling of what you're about to get yourself into. Hallmark, family-friendly network that it is, has a tried-and-true formula for its popular made-for-TV films. Hallmark holiday movies are usually chockful of feel-good moments that will make you feel warmer inside than downing a mug of marshmallow-topped hot cocoa. And you can't have a Hallmark movie without a good and proper romance blooming between our two stubborn leads. 

However, you do have some holiday flicks from the network that break away from the typical Hallmark movie playbook. "Heaven Down Here" is one Hallmark movie that is set to shatter viewers' expectations of what a Hallmark holiday movie means. The flick features an all-star cast, including Phylicia Rashad of "The Cosby Show" fame and Broadway actress Krystal Joy Brown. Although Brown is probably best known for her work onstage, the "Hamilton" star is no stranger to the glittering world of Hallmark. She's starred in several other of the mega network's films, including "Girlfriendship," where she acted alongside Tamera Mowry-Housley and Lyndie Greenwood. 

As one of Hallmark's recurring actors, Brown knows what makes a Hallmark movie stand out. After starring in "Heaven Down Here," the actress has said that this is one holiday movie that is sure to stick out from the rest. Not only does it cover some hard-hitting topics, but it also doesn't put romance at the forefront, which is certainly a departure from its usual formula. 

'Heaven Down Here' doesn't shy away from real-life issues

If the name "Heaven Down Here" sounds familiar to you, it's for a good reason. The Hallmark film is inspired by the Mickey Guyton song of the same name. The inspirational, vulnerable track features the twanging vocals of Guyton as she asks God to bring "heaven down" to end the problems plaguing the world. The holiday TV movie brings this idea to life in the form of its four main characters, each of whom is facing very real, deep-seated issues in their own lives. A heavy snowstorm on Christmas Eve traps these four strangers in their town's diner. Now, by chance or by fate, they have the time to address their problems head-on and help one another heal.

"Heaven Down Here" steers clear of the typical romcom hijinks you often see in Hallmark movies and instead uses its screentime to address real-life hardships that audiences can relate to. Krystal Joy Brown's character is a single mom and waitress who is overworking herself to make ends meet for her two children. After Brown read the script for "Heaven Down Here," she told TV Insider that she shed tears. "They're all trying to heal from something," Brown pointed out. "It just really touched me as soon as I read that, and I thought that this was a very special holiday movie." It's not your typical cheery Hallmark message, but it's one that's sure to resonate with audiences and even offer healing for people in similar situations as the main characters.

Romance isn't the movie's main focus

Romance in Hallmark movies has become something of a staple over the years. It's kind of like peanut butter and jelly or tea and honey — you can't have one without the other. We don't blame Hallmark one bit. Romance is fun to watch unfold. No one could grow tired of watching the troublemaker fall in love with the quirky bookworm or the snarky know-it-all who feels clueless about their blossoming feelings for the town's energetic newcomer. Plus, the people over at the Hallmark Channel are experts at getting viewers to fall hard for their onscreen pairings. But a Hallmark movie doesn't need romance as its central focus to be interesting and thought-provoking, and "Heaven Down Here" proves that.

In "Heaven Down Here," romance takes a backseat. Instead, the plot is centered around the characters, their families, and personal growth. One interesting plotline involves the character Clara, played by Tina Lifford, who is facing an identity crisis as her adult daughter prepares to leave the nest. Its characters like these that make  "Heaven Down Here" shine. The movie's focus on real-life issues as well as skimping on romance might just be a precursor for more varied plotlines in Hallmark holiday movies in the future.