[31 Days of Horror: Resurrection] Day 15 – The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

Director: Jim Cummings
Cast: Jim Cummings, Riki Lindholme, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, Robert Forster
Screenplay: Jim Cummings
85 mins. Rated R for violence, bloody images, language throughout and some drug use.

Beyond everything else in this review, you need to understand how incredible it was to see the Orion Pictures logo at the beginning of the film. Brought me all the way back…

Snow Hollow, a little town in Utah, has been hit with a string of grisly murders, seemingly attributed to a big wolf, but Deputy Sheriff John Marshall (Jim Cummings, Thunder Road, The Beta Test) believes it to be man, and he’s out to prove his theory. As his home life clashes with his hunt for the killer, the town begins to attach itself to the idea that the killer is a werewolf, and as time runs short, John must contend with his own anger issues and addiction in order to catch the culprit.

Cummings, who directed and wrote in addition to starring, seems to cultivate a peculiar tone for the film, and I’ve not been able to reconcile it with the film after the end credits rolled. I couldn’t quite tell if the tone was supposed to be straight horror or absurdist comedy, and his performance as the lead role only sought to confuse me more, as he almost intentionally plays up the drama. He’s not the only one in the cast doing this, but he does it more than anyone else. This isn’t to denigrate the tone in any way, as that mixture of horror and absurdity actually kind of worked, and the confusion somehow matches the confusion in the town itself as to the nature of this killer, be it wolf, man, or something in between.

When I discuss the recent Halloween Kills (a film that Cummings also appears in), I tend to relate a strength being the town of Haddonfield feeling like a lived-in place with notable residents, and that’s something that I felt with Snow Hollow, to a somewhat lesser extent. We don’t meet a lot of the residents of town, but the ones we get give the town a flavor and further help to support the film’s tone.

As far as the mystery goes, I found the narrative to be a bit lacking. The amount of time that elapses between bodies are discovered seems to suggest an inability in the police leadership to do anything of value, which may have been intentional, but if it were the case, I think it damaged my interest or likability in John or the other officers, including his father, Sheriff Hadley Marshall (Robert Forster, Mulholland Drive, Jackie Brown). We don’t get a lot of interactions between John and the Sheriff (possibly due to Forster’s ailing health, this would be his final performance before he passed away), but it seemed like the police force, as a collective, was as incapable as possible, and it fractures my interest in their plight.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow is an interesting enough little slice of mystery with a peculiar but engaging tone and an ending reveal that pulls off something very difficult to do (more often than not, this type of conclusion doesn’t work for me), leading to a collectively captivating close. While it may not work for everyone with its quirky attitude and slightly absurd collection of scenes, I liked it well enough to recommend.

-Kyle A. Goethe

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