I still haven’t seen Jim Cummings’ directorial debut, Thunder Road, which made waves on the festival circuit a few years ago. In fact, I had never heard of Thunder Road until a friend recommended The Wolf of Snow Hollow to me. “The voice of Winnie the Pooh directed a horror comedy about a werewolf?” I thought.
Different Jim Cummings, as it turns out. My bad.
This Jim Cummings has never, to my knowledge, voiced a loveable teddy bear. However, he did write, produce, direct, and star in The Wolf of Snow Hollow, a unique little film about a lycanthrope terrorizing a small town. As the mutilated bodies of young women appear on each full moon, the townspeople begin to panic. Cummings stars as John, the police officer tasked with bringing the killer to justice.
“You want people to stop talking shit about the police? Do better police work.”
John has a lot on his plate before the murders even begin. He’s a recovering alcoholic that has a strained relationship with his daughter. He and his ex-wife share a mutual hatred of each other, and his father–the sheriff–is getting too old for this shit. That’s a lot for any man to handle, let alone one as emotionally unstable as John.
The reflective nature of The Wolf of Snow Hollow is where Cummings shows his brilliance. John spirals and tumbles off the wagon, thus turning into something of a monster himself. The editing draws parallels between the gruesome wolf attacks and John lashing out at everyone around him. Damn the wolf, toxic masculinity is the real villain of the film. John bungles the investigation at every turn, simply because he’s too egotistical to trust those around him.
The wolf attacks, while entertaining, are not the primary focus. They’re gory and gruesome fun, expertly shot to hide the low budget of the film while maintaining tension. The snowy setting allows the bloodshed maximum impact whenever the wolf tears someone to pieces. These setpieces aren’t the main attraction, though. That would be the relationships between John and the excellent cast of supporting characters.
“You wanna be sheriff? How about we start acting like one?”
Cummings surrounds himself with a stellar supporting cast, including the late Robert Forster as the ailing sheriff. Forster gives the movie a beating heart–and some of its funniest line deliveries–in a bittersweet swan song performance. The best performance of the entire film comes from Riki Lindhome, John’s quiet but whip-smart partner, Julia. It’s not the most flashy or humorous performance, but it is the most impressive. Her silent disappointment as she watches John fall off the wagon gives emotional heft and stark realism against Cummings’ zany, over the top delivery of the material.
The mash-up of tones and varying degrees of realism in the film make for a weird experience that shouldn’t work, and yet…it all does. It’s certainly going to be a divisive film; it’s already ruffling feathers in the horror community. Whether or not it works for you depends on whether you’re on board with what Jim Cummmings is doing. Cummings has an odd voice as a filmmaker, and if you don’t tune into his unique wavelength, you’re not going to enjoy Snow Hollow.
It’s like Fargo, but with a werewolf. Indeed, that is the best–and most simplistic–way I can describe the film. I went into this movie completely blind, knowing nothing about the auteur behind it. When it ended, I knew that I had found a new and exciting filmmaker. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but The Wolf of Snow Hollow is one of the most unique cinematic experiences of the year, and well worth your time.
Overall Score 4.5/5
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is available now on video on demand.
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