The Wolf of Snow Hollow
2020, R, 83 min. Directed by Jim Cummings. Starring Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Robert Forster, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, Skyler Bible, Kelsey Edwards, Annie Hamilton.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Oct. 9, 2020
With his latest feature The Wolf of Snow Hollow, writer/director Jim Cummings continues to mine a very specific vein of the male psyche. As he did in his 2018 debut, Thunder Road, Cummings casts himself as a law enforcement officer besieged by inner turmoils that place him on a razor’s edge of falling into a nervous breakdown at any given moment. In other hands, watching these characters spin gloriously out of control as they attempt to keep the chaos at bay would be an exhaustive endeavor. But Cummings is so whip-smart in sustaining his manic energy with a layer of genuine pathos, that the effect transcends one-note cliche.
“My name’s John, and I’m an alcoholic,” is our introduction to John Marshall, a sheriff’s deputy in the small Utah ski resort town of Snow Hollow. Along with his attempts at recovery, John has a laundry list of issues: His mother left when he was young, he’s divorced from his wife, estranged from his teenage daughter, Jenna (East), and his father, Sheriff Hadley (Forster), is seriously afflicted from a heart condition he continually denies. If that isn’t enough to fray John’s nerves, there appears to be a werewolf brutally slaughtering people with every full moon. John promises his father he’s going to catch this maniac, but he and his fellow cops are clueless, and as the months (and the moons) go by, the bloody body count increases. Crawling into a bottle (at one point, mouth wash), John becomes unmoored, lashing out to his inept coworkers and vehemently denying that the murders are the handiwork of a werewolf, despite all evidence to the contrary. His attempts at repairing the relationship with Jenna, soon to leave for college, go disastrously wrong, their roles becoming inverted. When his father’s illness takes a turn just as the case is breaking, John’s struggles achieve a dizzying crescendo.
Part of the brilliance of Cummings’ performance is how he can turn on a dime, baring his soul one second and throwing off a well-timed jab in the same breath. Thankfully, the actors around him are able to keep up with his pace. Forster, in his final role, is wonderfully cantankerous and endearing without being sentimental. Chloe East more than holds her own opposite John’s hysterics; And Riki Lindhome, as John’s put-upon partner on the case, is the perfect complement to John’s self-will run riot. Genre fans will be more than sated by the high gore levels, and the cinematography by Natalie Kingston evokes eerie, chilly sparseness and noir shadows. And while the third act resolution is a bit pat, suggesting Silence of the Lambs mixed with Scooby Doo, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is only cursorily concerned with lycanthropic mayhem. The more interesting conflicts here involve personal surrender and letting go of the past. That is where real transformation lies.
Read our interview with writer/director/star Jim Cummings, "Jim Cummings Hunts The Wolf of Snow Hollow," Sept. 30.
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The Wolf of Snow Hollow, Jim Cummings, Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Robert Forster, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, Skyler Bible, Kelsey Edwards, Annie Hamilton