A genre thriller with personality “The wolf of the snow caveIs the rare horror offering that has more character than carnage. Backed by a cast who deserve their own long form series, the writer’s / director’s film Jim Cummings does not settle for just serving a T&A Gore Smorgasbord, but instead engages with ideas related to toxic masculinity, police reform, substance abuse and parenting in the age of FaceTime. Tense, frightening and full of heart when Cummings moves all parts in the same direction, the film hums with an effortless rhythm that largely compensates for the flaws burned in in the third act.
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When half a couple are literally torn to pieces at their Airbnb rental in the quiet ski town of Snow Hollow, John Marshall (Jim Cummings), the local sheriff’s assistant, takes command of the investigation. The opening scene in front of an anonymous group of alcoholics paints him at best as unstable and at worst as an emotional time bomb. Everything from John’s body language to his vocalizing a fantasy with a bulldozer and his ex-wife’s house suggests problems on the horizon with the wrong person in charge.
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This dance between humorous and frightening is a fountain to which “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” returns again and again when the bodies pile up further. The movie’s overall conceit is the investigation of the murders and approach to an answer to who is killing all of these people, but it’s John’s slow descent to rock bottom that underpins the narrative and is the film’s most compelling element. A tough ex-wife, a troubled teenage daughter, his sick father, the sheriff (Robert Forster) and a city desperate for answers, John begins to fall apart.
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Cummings has a knack for writing and playing characters whose manic dissolution takes on a darkly humorous tendency. Like a tragic one Larry DavidAudiences shudder at the madness of the character and secretly identify with its underlying logic. Cummings great debut film 2018 “Thunder road“Had a similar head start with many of the same tics and emotional issues as John Marshall, and what works on The Wolf of Snow Hollow has something to do with bottling that magic. However, so far this can only bring “Snow Hollow”, and as the thriller is stumbling towards a solution, the details of the script reveal the greater effort.
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The “who / what” of the central riddle is solved, but the “why” of things is never made clear and only further confused by a last-minute twist, which adds little to the overall effort. In addition, the script seems to lose track of its characters from time to time, along with John’s father (Forster) and his deputy Julia (Riki Lindhome) which, despite their importance to the investigation and John’s mental state, drift in and out of the narrative. At the end of it all, the parts are more or less there, but the way there is sometimes lost.
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That said, “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” does a lot more right than wrong, and Cumming’s talent for writing dialogue that focuses on an idea or emotion like a water pick takes it to the finish line. The shy humor of silent desperation that seeps from John’s pores is brought into the film with surgical precision and elevates it above the standard genre tariff. Cummings has created a film that balances humor with the tragically absurd and yet works in moments that deal with toxic masculinity, police reform and addiction.
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John is a complex, contradicting, and self-destructive character who can’t understand why someone would throw a bottle at a police car, but still has the spirit to scold a coworker for saying, “You want people to stop talking Shit about the police? Do better police work! “He’s the kind of guy who can make clear decisions about a crime scene investigation and still impulsively beat people who contradict him. He is a awful Boss and some of the police’s personal runaway monster. It’s fun, terrifying, and insightful at the same time, and it can only come from the mind of an author who has a lot to say and only so much budget and time to say it.
Carefully in the middle of the scariest month of the year, “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” is a blood-soaked ode to neurotic insecurity and stagnation in development. Cummings delivers again with his manic manic storm-in-a-teapot energy aimed at genre horror in a linchpin that should please Thunder Road fans, even if the pieces don’t always match that same precision are aimed at novice effort. Taking advantage of the snowy landscape and the action by moonlight (the film is beautiful to watch), Cummings has given fans something nice to chew on until his next trip on the road or in the hollow. [B]
“The Wolf of Snow Hollow” hits VOD and selected theaters on October 9th.