Imagine you’re a modern-day sheriff in a sleepy Utah ski community facing a series of brutal murders. All of the victims were killed at night. All of them died during a full a moon and now everybody and their dog is screaming “werewolf”. -Well, what would you do? Werewolves don’t exist. That’s nuts, right”. That’s in the movies, yep? Or at least, that’s what recovering alcoholic police chief John Marshall thinks, yes? Or could he be wrong…?
... The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a film that can devour its cake and eat it. Taken as a horror-drama, it's great. Taken as a comedy-horror it works just as well.
You see, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a strange, little beast of a film. Not prepared to lay down its genre-specific cards straight away, writer/director Jim Cummings second film instead starts with a dour, straight-down-the-line, disorientating fifteen minutes of drama. Quickly establishing his police officer John Marshall as a man who can’t let the slightest thing go, we are exposed to both his divorce, his senile father and bumblingly inept townsfolk of Snow Hollow – all of whom do John’s head in. -And then there are the murders. Yes, just for added effect on top of everything, women start dying in random circumstances during full moons.
Blood and splattered and disembowelled in the overcast snow, this might well be the thing that sends John fully over the edge. -And there you have it. The template that writer/director Jim Cummings has formulated so as to breathe new life into the shaggy dog story of werewolf-ery and for the most part, its highly inventive.
In a genuinely interesting approach to a murder mystery, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is far less concerned about the outcome and much more about those affected. You pretty much know what’s doing the killing. You certainly know what the superstitious townsfolk thinking but at the centre of it all is a man hanging on his sanity, stubbornly refusing to give in to the paranormal.
With increasingly bizarre and blackly comic twists, Jim Cummings’s comedy-horror wants to knock at the door of farce but his central character absolutely refuses to go in. Concerned more about his ageing father (an excellent Robert Forster in his last ever role) and his scolded daughter (a great Chloe East), Jim Cummings’s John Marshall is more afraid of being asked “if he’s ok” than meeting a seven-foot lycanthrope with a penchant for blood and moonlight.
Like many of the best dark offerings in recent years, the line here between comedy and drama is razor blade thin. If it’s too dour then it’s a drama. If it’s too comic, then it’s a romp and given the choice, The Wolf of Snow Hollow knowingly risks the former so as to avoid the latter. Though with its comedic frequency set to being as black as possible, that’s a risk you might not find it as funny as you were expecting.
I think given its sly, almost too-subtle introduction of sarcasm and amped-up inner conflict, I’d almost say that this is possibly a movie you’ll enjoy more the second time around. Maybe courtesy of the film’s marketing you’ll be better primed. However, I saw this one cold, and on balance, I think this is the best way for this cold-hearted dish to be served.
As the study of a man who seems permanently primed to explode in a dozen different directions, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a film that can devour its cake and eat it. Taken as a horror-drama, it’s great. Taken as a comedy-horror it works just as well. Just don’t expect Teenwolf, because this time, Jim Cummings has definitely put cutesy out to pasture.0