Review by Sean Boelman
Actor/filmmaker Jim Cummings made a huge splash on the indie scene with his critically-acclaimed dramedy Thunder Road, and so fans have eagerly been awaiting his follow-up, the horror-comedy The Wolf of Snow Hollow. A fun and loving tribute to slasher horror and werewolf movies alike, this is a very satisfying indie genre picture.
The film follows a small-town police officer whose personal and professional lives are thrown off-balance when the town is stricken with a series of brutal murders that some begin to suspect were committed by a werewolf. Cummings does a very good job writing a script that is both a send-up to the classics of the genre and a satisfying mystery in its own right.
Admittedly, the pacing does lend itself to the final act of the movie feeling a bit predictable. The first hour or so moves along at a wonderful and lively rhythm, but the attempts at twists in the third act play out in a way that feels somewhat telegraphed, causing the resolution to feel somewhat underwhelming.
That said, even if the core story may have a few shortcomings, its character arcs are extremely compelling. One of the most interesting things about the film are the parallelisms that are drawn between the protagonist’s relationship with his father and that he has with his teenage daughter, making this into a moving family drama in addition to its werewolf horror core.
Additionally, the movie is a deconstruction of toxic masculinity. Although this leads to a few narrative decisions that are over-the-top and some jokes that are a tad on the tone-deaf side, Cummings soon finds his footing and delivers some interesting commentary, particularly in the second act, which is particularly profound.
Cummings’s performance takes a bit of time to get used to, as his arrogant and depressive take on the archetype is initially grating until the character becomes a lot more empathetic, at which point the nuance in his performance becomes more evident. The true standout, though, is the late Robert Forster in his final on-screen appearance, giving an enjoyably hammy performance.
The film also looks very good in an aesthetic sense. The way in which Cummings shoots the kill scenes is designed to emphasize suspense in a very old-school and retro way. We don’t see the monster until it is absolutely necessary, which both minimizes the movie’s dependence on special effects and allows the viewer to buy into the mystery element.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is an enjoyable throwback to the classic films of the horror genre. And even though it gets off to a bit of a rocky start, Jim Cummings is able to overcome these brief stumbles to deliver a mostly satisfying watch.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow hits theaters and VOD on October 9.