The Wolf of Snow Hollow follows a sheriff-in-waiting who must balance his divorce, his relationship with his daughter, his alcoholism, his father's health and reluctant retirement as the current sheriff, and, most pertinently, a string of grisly murders in which the victims are torn to shreds as if done by a large predator.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow Review
I am unfamiliar with director (and writer and actor) Jim Cummings, but he apparently has quite the cult following behind his unorthodox style of filmmaking. Of course, I have the reasonable excuse for having never come across his name previously because this film is his first foray into horror. Up to this point, he is known primarily for his dark, dry, indie dramedies (from what I can gather), so this film was a break from the norm for him. So how did he fare? Well, I sure hope Cummings has more horror in his future, let's put it that way.
A festival darling this year, The Wolf of Snow Hollow did not disappoint when I was finally able to get around to watching it. Right from the beginning, the film plays out like nothing I've ever seen before. Cummings has a very unique style to his filmmaking that I can never quite pinpoint where the influences come from. He has a distinctive eye for camera angles and pans and this, what I would assume is trademark, take on long shots during short, manic, comedic monologues. It's awkward and dry, but it adds a character to the film in the form of its style.
The editing is also special in its choppy overlapping, with many of the kills interspersed between post-crime scene evaluation and reactions from the locals. It dilutes the excessive bloodshed, but strangely balances it with this dark comedic tone of watching Cummings (who also plays the lead) constantly flip-flopping between frenzied overreaction and subdued somberness. It makes the film feel constantly imbalanced, but purposefully so.
If I were to critique any element of Cummings' work, it would be his acting. Whether it is purposeful or not, he has this dry delivery that kills the momentum of some of the more humorous lines/moments. He also has this aura about him that makes you feel like he's trying really hard not to look into the camera or burst into laughter from his own overacting...kind of like Will Ferrell in some of his performances. It adds a bit too much of this awkward atmosphere that makes some moments more off-putting than funny.
The horror itself is artfully balanced with its comedy and drama, acting as an engine to refine and accelerate the sobering humanity of the subplots. The father's declining health, the daughter's estrangement, and the foreboding alcoholism are all delivered amidst a whacky werewolf whodunit. It's charming, disarming, and weird.
I don't believe that this film is for everyone. It has this dryness and eccentricity that is wholly its own, but also oozing with a knee-jerk reaction of being niche. Cummings directs better than he acts, but thankfully the margin isn't so large that it ruins the film. The supporting cast is great and does a fantastic job of carrying the load. Soon after watching it, I wanted to watch it again with someone as unaware of it as I was. If that's not a reason to support a movie, I don't know what is.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 7/10