Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Wolf of Snow Hollow: Movie Review

Idiosyncratic comedy with the makings of a thriller/horror and a character study.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a curious little movie. Part comedy, part horror, part thriller, part murder mystery, part character study, and all within a sub-90-minute runtime. The dialogue, primarily where the comedy comes in, is great; and the set-up for the murder mystery/thriller is good. The meshing of all the themes together got very muddled by the end and the conclusion is not wholly satisfying.   2020

Directed by: Jim Cummings

Screenplay by: Jim Cummings

Starring: Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Robert Forster

The main character is John Marshall (Jim Cummings) an officer in a small, snow-covered tourist town, who also happens to be the son of the Sheriff (the late Robert Forster). The Sheriff’s health is not good, he’s losing his mind, and really all abilities to function as a capable Sheriff, but nobody else knows, so John has to keep him away from the media, and away from his job. John is also a recovering alcoholic with extreme anger management issues. He also takes it upon himself to be the acting Sheriff despite being unpopular and not caring about having the support of the staff around him.

A brutal murder has occurred. A couple renting a getaway cottage and the woman is killed. Carved up dead with canine paw prints. It almost has to be an animal except for the fact it needed to have opposable thumbs and operate a precision knife. So perhaps a werewolf.

The comedy is stellar. Cummings has so many straight lines (he’s the sane one who doesn’t believe in werewolves) and delivers them with a great sting in his voice. Also stellar is Jimmy Tatro as the boyfriend of the murdered woman. His grief and anger are palpable and helps give the film a bit of emotional weight.

As the bodies start piling up, all the other officers are convinced it’s an animal, probably a werewolf, and they need an expert to track the animal. John, however, is not the voice of reason. While he is sure that we’re looking for a human killer, he turns to anger, alcohol and more anger rather than detective work. Hence where the character study comes in.

There’s smart writing around the character of John. He has a daughter who he obviously loves but doesn’t really support or listen to. He has an ex-wife he hates, and he has a police partner (Riki Lindhome) who may be capable but he’s turning to alcohol instead. John is neither likable nor the smart one. There isn’t really any smart characters, which feels like a necessity for a thriller with unsolvable murders at the center.

Eventually the killings get solved, but some smart characters may have helped us get there more efficiently. The Wolf of Snow Hollow is just as much about the self-destruction of John as it is about the murders.