Review: ‘The Wolf of Snow Hollow’ (2020)

Have you ever wondered what it might be like if Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way, Observe & Report) mainlined a handful of Coen Bros. and Edgar Wright movies, then decided to write “Fargo with a werewolf”? If you’re a weirdo like me, you may have had that exact thought. Lucky for both of us, writer/director/actor Jim Cummings has delivered such a quirky mixture with his latest effort, The Wolf of Snow Hollow.

Snow Hollow is a picturesque town residing amid the (you guessed it) snow-filled mountains where tourists come to get their ski fun on. When a woman is brutally murdered, the local law enforcement is tasked with tracking down the killer. A killer who may or may not be human. Given that these cops are primarily used to dealing with drunk drivers and traffic violations, to say that they are out of their depth would be an understatement.

The sheriff (Robert Forster) is too old to be on the job, but too stubborn to retire. His heart is giving out and his mind is slipping, so the bulk of the leadership duties fall upon his son, John (Cummings). An alcoholic divorcee, John is a mess of a man. His relationship with his father is strained due to having to cover up for said slipping mind. His relationship with his ex-wife is almost entirely comprised of screaming matches. His relationship with his teenage daughter is distant and combative. As for his relationship with his fellow officers? Well, let’s just say they don’t respect or obey him nearly as much as he would like.

All of these problems would, of course, be easier to handle if John himself weren’t a neurotic mess and teetering on the edge of falling off the wagon. Instead of the usual “cop on the edge” motif that we might get in a more traditional take on similar material, we are saddled with a man who is constantly seething with rage and battling continuous thoughts of inadequacy. Cummings deftly sways across all emotional pendulums with his performance, which is a feat in and of itself. One false note would be enough to bring the entire character crashing down, as well as the film around it.

I love werewolf movies and I welcome any new stabs at bringing my favorite type of monster to the screen, no matter who is behind it. The Wolf of Snow Hollow isn’t really a werewolf movie in a traditional sense, however. I’m not dishing out spoilers here. If you want to know how the monster side of the equation plays out, you’re just going to have to see that for yourself. I mean it’s not a werewolf movie in the sense that the beast isn’t the point. That said, you DO get a pretty good looking beastie, so it doesn’t slouch on that front.

This is the story of a man who is just barely holding himself together before tragedy strikes his town. These murders are poised to push him to his breaking point and he doesn’t have much support to keep that from happening. Mind you, the reason he is lacking support is just as much his fault as it is the fault of others. Bottling ones emotions up is never the answer to anything. It always inevitably becomes a time bomb just waiting to go off. And off John goes, over and over again.

The real werewolf at the center of this film is John himself. A being of barely-contained rage forever cursed to unleash his pain-filled id upon those he loves most. One minute he’s joking with his pals and the next he’s having a meltdown. His personality is the true monster and for that there’s no easy silver-coated cure. It’s just something he’s going to have to work at, lest it consume him.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow isn’t for everyone. It’s a quirky and neurotic piece of character-based moviemaking that just so happens to have a murderous monster in it. If that sounds appealing to you, then I urge you to embrace it with open arms. If you were hoping for something more along the lines of Silver Bullet or Wolfen, however, you’re not going to be happy with the results. As for me, I loved it and am now eager to seek out Cummings’ debut, Thunder Road.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow is an original horror comedy. It was written and directed by Jim Cummings. The film was produced by Kathleen Grace, Michael Hoklotubbe, Michael J. McGarry, Natalie Metzger, Matt Miller, and Benjamin Wiessner. It stars Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Chloe East, Skyler Bible, Demetrius Daniels, Kevin Changaris, Rachel Jane Day, Jimmy Tatro, and Robert Forster.

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