Movie Review: The Wolf of Snow Hollow
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a horror comedy about a small Utah mountain town terrorized by a series of gruesome killings. John, a sheriff's deputy and son to the current sheriff, is attempting to take command from his ailing father. Yet, his anger issues and his alcoholism are exacerbated by the crimes. As his descent into madness cements, the case is starting to make him think the stories of a werewolf being behind the attacks are real. The film stars Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, Annie Hamilton, Hannah Elder, Kelsey Elder, Skyler Bible, Demetrius Daniels, Kevin Changaris, Will Madden, and Robert Forster. The film was written and directed by Jim Cummings. The film is available for rental on a VOD (Video on Demand) platform like iTunes or Amazon.
There is no other word for this film except terrific. I'm a big fan of the horror comedy and especially when the horror is light but palpable and the comedy is excruciatingly funny. I love that Jim Cummings with The Wolf in Snow Hollow ,as well as with his other most recent feature before this, Thunder Road ,is able to balance the tremendously funny moments with genuine pathos.
It's a fine line to walk to make comedy out of a man's nervous break down and alcoholism, but Cummings pulls it off. His writing is so sharp and witty. Not only that, but the story is really intriguing as well. It's not just a vehicle for jokes or gore, but something genuine and unique. I'm in awe of how the solution is revealed and the gifted way the red herrings are placed, but are obvious in retrospect. The script keeps you guessing.
Not only that, but Cummings had a brilliant idea in hiring Natalie Kingston as his cinematographer. Her compositions are well crafted and even when we suspect we will never see the monster, when we do, Kingston has framed it beautifully. She also builds the subtext in the best ways with capturing the just the right looks at the right time. She has an eye for what the story is really about. The combination of Kingston's shots and Patrick Nelson Barnes' and R. Brett Thomas' quick back and forth editing is poetry.
I don't want to give away major plot details, though, I must delicately praise an incredible idea. There is a subtext throughout the film of the murder victims being women. Though, unlike a lot of thrillers like this that focus on the idea that women need protection at all times, they are the more fragile and innocent sex, The Wolf of Snow Hollow subverts those ideas. While the male deputies are obsessed with the idea that it's a wolf, wolves, or werewolf, Detective Julia Robson, played by Riki Lindhome, works the case as she's done quietly for years. She sees the patterns as she has for her entire life because she's a woman in a small town. She knows the darkness that lurks in all men because of their privilege. It's an incredible subtext that becomes text at the film's end and is heightened by clues scattered about and looks Lindhome and other women give that are captured and kept.
Some of the most brilliant ideas in the film come from the familial relationships of John, Hadley, and Jenna. John is trying very hard to be like his father in his work, while also pushing him to retire. It's obvious to everyone, even himself deep down inside, that he doesn't have the temperament to be a sheriff. He sees that harsh anger building up inside of Jenna as well. In a brilliant scene after Jenna and a boy are attacked in a car by the wolf, she and John have an argument and you can see the shift in his demeanor as he watches a version of himself screaming at him. I love the interplay between those two and the ways they hurt each other with their behavior. Though, the relationship between Hadley and John is perfect in its own way.
Robert Forster died late last year and this is one of his final performances. There are a ton of terrific performances in this film, but none can compare to the lived in brilliance of Forster. His aging sheriff is gruff, but lovable, an old hand at battle, but definitely slowing down day by day. Forster's performance as Hadley shows of his brilliance at comedy and his command of every scene he's in. I will miss him gracing the screens, but am thankful for subtle, hilarious and heartfelt performances like this.
Jim Cummings may be the next big thing, but I hope he's not. I truly hope he can keep making intelligent, hilarious and affecting small movies on his own. He's utterly unique in his approach and daring in his execution. There really is no other filmmaker like him around. I can't recommend this film highly enough and after about four days of rest from the tension, take on his brilliant Thunder Road as well. Seek this one out.