THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW (2020)
aka THE WEREWOLF
Directed by Jim Cummings
Written by Jim Cummings
Starring Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Robert Forster, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, Marshall Allman, Neville Archambault, Annie Hamilton, Jessica Park, Laura Coover, Kelsey Edwards, Hannah Elder, Amanda Brown, Skyler Bible, Will Madden, Kevin Changaris, Dustin Hahn, Demetrius Daniels, Colleen Baum, Rachel Jane Day, Daniel Fenton Anderson
When a series of savage murders plague the small Mid-Western town of Snow Hollow, the responsibility falls on recovering alcoholic and deputy sheriff John Marshall (writer/director Jim Cummings) to bring the murderer in. John’s father Sheriff Headley (Robert Forster) is close to retirement and relies heavily on John to take care of the legwork in capturing this criminal, but all of the evidence says that the culprit is not a man but something kind of like a werewolf. While John is adamant that it is a man they are looking for, he begins to give in to the stress and starts drinking again, which doesn’t help in capturing the killer be he man or beast.
THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW is one of Robert Forster’s final performances and the film is worth seeing simply to enjoy this actor for one last time. Forster’s contributions to film are legendary and simply seeing him be his gruff self as the over-it sheriff is a real treat. While his role is not big, every time he shows up really elevates this film.
THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW is basically a police procedural focusing on one flawed man looking to solve a brutal case. I enjoyed this film quite a bit, mainly for the classical whodunnit style of police show it seems to be derived from. The film is not excessively gory, though there is a lot of blood, but the murders are and even though we aren’t shown every wound and innard, the suggestion of the carnage is effective enough. While this is a sort of werewolf film, it is an unconventional one and while convention seems to be a sad symptom of werewolf movies, this one really isn’t like any I’ve seen before. All of the night hunting, the carnage, and the claws and roars at the moon are there, but the film provides a nice twist to the typical werewolf story that surprised me in a good way.
One of the things that every cop story has to have is a personal hurdle for the main cop to overcome while working on the case. In this case, it’s John’s alcoholism. And while this, I think, is ripe territory to plumb in terms of man’s grappling with his animalistic side aka a werewolf story, I feel at times the alcoholism angle overshadows the main murder case. It’s one thing to connect the two conflicts of the story. It’s another to give the subtext so much screentime that it blocks out the main problem (the murders and the wolf). Writer/director/lead actor Jim Cummings seems to think that addressing alcoholism is important and it is, but too much time is spent and at times I felt I was watching an alcoholism movie with a werewolf rather than the much more appealing werewolf movie with alcoholism themes. The balance is off, especially in the latter portion of the film, and I think the story suffers for it.
That said, THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW is an exciting, thrilling and surprisingly funny film. Cummings has written some great lines here, especially during the highly stressful times we center on the police banter and the growing problems Cummings’ John has at home. The script has a lot of wit, which gave the film a unique tone that doesn’t make fun of the horrors that happen, but provide gallows humor necessary in order to cope with it.
There is a whole lot to like about this little cop mystery flick. The reveal at the end was especially well done and those looking for a funny, yet biting monster movie are in for a huge treat with THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW.