Review: The Wolf of Snow Hollow
Updated: Nov 20, 2020
Thunder Road director Jim Cummings has crafted an atmospheric and suspenseful werewolf flick
Written by Katherine McLaughlin
Jim Cummings is a confidently charismatic actor who has a knack of playing disagreeable characters and eking out sympathy for them in their darkest moments. In his award-winning breakthrough feature, Thunder Road, he went for broke as a cop on the edge and in his latest film, which he also writes, directs and stars in, he returns to a law enforcement role. He turns in another committed performance for a comedy-horror about the tragic impact and implications of stubborn male pride and toxic behaviour. It may be less audacious than his previous feature, but its contained, simmering energy serves a purpose.
John Marshall (Cummings) has a lot on his plate. He’s a divorcee dad to a teenaged daughter (Chloe East), an alcoholic in recovery and son to the town sheriff (the late Robert Forster in one his final roles) who refuses to quit despite a heart condition. When mutilated female corpses start appearing on every full moon, it’s rumoured a werewolf is on the prowl and it’s down to Marshall to solve the murders. Detective Julia Robson (Riki Lindhome) is also on the case but Marshall’s hot-headedness and refusal to listen to anyone else or ask for help hinders the investigation dragging it out for months, until it reaches a crafty Christmastime conclusion.
As the title suggests, snow-capped mountains provide the setting, and Cummings’ meticulous world building nails the confinement of small-town life littered with eccentric locals and a high number of divorcees. It’s all delivered with a Coenesque humour and a dash of Twin Peaks weirdness that pulls you into the unfolding mystery and calamities with gusto while also casting suspicion on multiple characters. The strong supporting cast including Jimmy Tatro from American Vandal add appealing comic charm and poignancy. Forster delivers some great grumpy one-liners and Lindhome’s wide-eyed contempt for her boss is hilariously damning.
The tightly written script plays with werewolf mythology in interesting ways, tying it to misogyny and taking aim at a society too cowardly to confront the reality of a long, troubling history of male violence against women. Working on multiple levels, the film also connects themes of self-medication and addiction with the inability to discuss and share emotions, though this aspect is a little less well rounded out. Mostly, Cummings has crafted an atmospheric, suspenseful and darkly amusing werewolf murder mystery featuring a transfixing central performance and glistening cinematography from Natalie Kingston that evokes the chill of the snowy setting.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow seems to be concerned with the internal battle of men shedding old-fashioned attitudes of acting as silent, hardy provider rather than the control and isolation of women that can lead to femicide. As the dead bodies continue to pile up the monster here is the ugly, festering wounds of male pride and untamed ego.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is available to rent in the UK now.
Director: Jim Cummings
Screenwriter: Jim Cummings
Cast: Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Robert Forster
Running time: 83 minutes