The power of prayer has failed to save The Christmas Candle, the new release from Rick Santorum's faith based film studio, EchoLight.

The Christmas Candle, set in the fictional English village of Gladbury and billed as "a timeless holiday film for the entire family", attracted widespread critical scorn as well as dismal box-office results, having grossed just over $1.6m after two weeks on release.

The bad reviews were perhaps predictable, with the New York Daily News saying: "This odd Dickens-meets-Sunday-school movie is as artless as the setup is muddled", while the New York Post judged: "This throwback, made-for-TV-style film takes the easy way out in a cheesy climax, but its resolute quaintness may appeal to the kind of viewers who regard electricity as disturbingly newfangled." The Arizona Republic called it "resolutely stiff and hollow".

Former presidential candidate Santorum, who took to the media shortly before the film's release to lambast Hollywood as "the devil's playground" will presumably find it easy to shrug off critical brickbats; less easy to swallow will be the ignominious box office results. Its opening weekend, on a small "platform" release on just 5 screens, took a respectable $68,000; but in its second week, when it expanded to over 390, it took less than $1m. The crucial screen average was an extremely moderate $2,500, putting it below the likes of The Best Man Holiday, Narco Cultura, and bodybuilding doco Generation Iron - and far beneath Catching Fire and Philomena.

The Christmas Candle, which stars Clash of the Titans' Hans Matheson and gives singer Susan Boyle her film debut in a small role - the inn-keeper's wife - is released in the UK on 13 December.

News: Rick Santorum calls Hollywood 'the devil's playground' © Guardian News and Media 2013