Time travel, sorceresses, curses, ghosts, human cloning. Netflix has officially established a Holiday Movie Universe, connecting several of its Hallmark-style seasonal films through references and Easter eggs. What this has done is create a fantasy realm where Christmas can sustain a country’s economy, hot chocolate is an aphrodisiac, and, oh yeah, magic exists.
Netflix recently released a series of tweets breaking down what it’s calling “Netflix’s Holiday Movie Universe,” (we’ll use NHMU for short) which consists of a series of holiday films on its streaming service. The first to emerge was 2017’s A Christmas Prince, which starred iZombie’s Rose McIver as an investigative reporter named Amber who goes undercover with the royal family of Aldovia to find out some dirt on the future king. What does she find? Love.
Netflix has expanded its holiday movie empire into eight films and counting with films like The Holiday Calendar, about a magical advent calendar, and The Princess Switch, which stars Vanessa Hudgens in the dual role of a duchess and baker who switch places and then, of course, find love. A Christmas Prince itself has spawned two sequels, The Royal Wedding and The Royal Baby—it’s basically the Skywalker saga of the NHMU.
You might think the only magic in these holiday films is the magic of the season, but you would be wrong. These movies are connected in a way that not only has created a cinematic universe, but have also brought magic into each and every one of them.
It all starts with The Knight Before Christmas, which came out last month and is a movie you absolutely should watch. It also stars Hudgens, this time as a science teacher named Brooke who falls in love with a 14th century knight. Thanks to a magic medallion from a sorceress (who the movie lovingly names Old Crone), Sir Cole (Josh Whitehouse) travelled forward in time to fulfil a quest so he could become a “true knight.” We never find out what that quest is though because all he does is obsess over hot chocolate, make bread, and sponsor a Christmas Eve dinner. I guess his quest was love because, yeah, he and Brooke do that.
So, we’ve established that magic is real in The Knight Before Christmas. Brooke witnesses Sir Cole travel back to his own time, and it seems like everyone else has accepted that he’s from the 14th century. The movie even has a post-credits scene where the sorceress sets her time-travelling eye on Sir Cole’s brother, meaning we’re likely going to see even more magical shenanigans in a sequel. And here is where things get…interesting.
The Knight Before Christmas includes a scene where Brooke’s sister tells her daughter about an acorn ornament that their family brought back from a trip to Aldovia. That means Aldovia—and by extension, A Christmas Prince—exist in the world of The Knight Before Christmas. And therefore, so does magic.
This is further cemented in A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby. The third film in the franchise centres around Queen Amber and her husband needing to sign a peace treaty before midnight on Christmas Eve (that deadline always exists in these movies for some reason), otherwise Aldovia and the neighbouring country of Penglia will automatically return to a state of war. But that’s not all: The king’s sister finds out that if they don’t sign the treaty, the baby will be cursed.
Apparently, a sorceress placed a spell over the treaty to ensure that it would never be broken. The Queen Mother tells her daughter that there’s nothing to worry about, because curses are silly superstitions that fell out of fashion “centuries ago.” But there is something to worry about. Have you been paying attention? Magic is real, lady! (There are also rumours of a ghost in the dungeon. This is technically neither confirmed nor denied, so I’m going to assume it’s true.)
It doesn’t end there. The Royal Baby confirms a canonical connection to The Princess Switch, as we see a map showing that Aldovia and Belgravia are neighbouring nations, and there’s a mention that Belgravia’s ruler married a non-royal (which totally happened). This realisation opens up the possibility that there could be another reason for two women who look exactly like Vanessa Hudgens being in the same universe together.
Scratch that, three Vanessa Hudgens: They’re working on a sequel to The Princess Switch that introduces another lookalike. Oh wait, there’s also the Vanessa Hudgens of The Knight Before Christmas, which is indirectly tied to The Princess Switch by way of A Christmas Prince. That makes four Vanessa Hudgens!
Seriously: Why are there at least four women who all look alike and equally love the holiday season traipsing around the globe, seemingly unaware of each other until some holiday-based hijinks bring them together? Is this a magical Orphan Black situation where the sorceress from The Knight Before Christmas (who might possibly be the same one from The Royal Baby) experimented with cloning to create multiple Vanessa Hudgens because the world can never have too much of her?
But, that’s not all. Oh no, no, no, we haven’t reached the bottom of this well yet.
There’s one more way the NHMU is connected, and that’s through the movies themselves. Several of the films feature scenes where other films in the NHMU are playing on television. For example, A Christmas Prince is spotted in The Holiday Calendar and The Princess Switch, and Holiday in the Wild is part of a major scene in The Knight Before Christmas (along with a weird corporate tie-in with Alexa, but that’s another story).
Of course, if you try and think about that for a split second, your brain will explode. The Princess Switch and A Christmas Prince are linked…but Vanessa Hudgens is also watching A Christmas Prince on television? Does that mean A Christmas Prince is a documentary? Or, perhaps, is it magic?
Only time will tell whether we get the epic NHMU crossover we deserve, like we have with Marvel’s Avengers and the holiday characters of Rankin/Bass. But even if we don’t get a two-part movie where Queen Amber and Sir Cole team up to save all the Vanessa Hudgens of the world from having their sleeper cell triggers activated, which an evil anti-sorceress had implanted in them to make them kill the spirit of Christmas once and for all, it’ll be ok.
Because it’s a magical time of year, and there’s no way better to celebrate it than by adding a little bit of magic into our lives. In the case of the NHMU, it’s probably a lot more magic than they bargained for.