For those of you who missed it, quite literally everything was shut down. Stores. Shops. Theaters. Those businesses allowed to remain open were forced to adopt a series of authoritarian measures also meant to curb the spread, but the general emotional response seemed to be that folks decided it wasn’t worth it. Granted, a great many folks were convinced that going out would mean the end of life itself, so I can understand and appreciate why so many stayed away. Still, I can’t help but wonder where we would be in our collective recovery today had everyone simply adopted a greater sense of calm, engaged in smart preventative care (as opposed to the Draconian ones decreed by governments around the world), and agreed to a vastly shorter lockdown that what we endured.
In any event, I do remember a little something something called The Wolf Of Snow Hollow coming and going quickly through its truncated theatrical run. Though it initially screened prior to the initial outbreak, it was one of those releases (at least in my area) that was allowed to languish in the mostly empty theaters. Hollywood had ground to a halt with putting films up on the screens – enforced lockdowns meant little to no ticket purchases anyway – so anyone who would’ve appreciated this smart little gem of a Horror/Comedy mix probably never heard of it.
And I, for one, find that very sad.
Written by, directed by, and starring Jim Cummings, Snow Hollow is one of the better genre flicks I’ve had the good fortune to stumble across as of late. (FYI: It made the rounds on one of my cable channels recently, so I DVR’ed for good measure.) Cummings (as ‘John Marshall’) is exceptional as the stress-addled ‘acting sheriff’ to Snow Hollow, a tiny little ski resort municipality he’s not quite happy to call home mostly because his anger issues always get the best of him. His father, the sheriff, is played by the screen veteran Robert Forster in one of his last roles of record. This sometimes manic but always knowing picture also casts the fabulous, underrated Riki Lindhome as a small-town deputy in pursuit of what looks to be a serial killer who may or may not take the shape of the mythical creature of legend – the werewolf.
Across the board, performances are phenomenal in Snow Hollow. Cummings is owed a lot of praise for not only his time before the camera here, and I can’t help but wonder if the frantic intensity he brings to the role is owed in any negligible way to the stresses of both writing and directing this affair. Forster – the veteran character actor he is – slips comfortably into the guise of a small-town sheriff whose best years (health included) are obviously behind him. There’s a terrific non-verbal shorthand between he and Cummings that gives their screen time together an authenticity that grounds the project. Lindhome – often seen in screwball style comedies – is a revelation here, bringing to life the rather ‘plain Jane’ local yokel who joined the police force and makes the best of it against all odds. And relative newcomer Chloe East gets great mileage out of a relatively small role as Marshall’s daughter who can’t quite decide if she loves or hates her father … such is the life of the great American teenager.
Lastly, I’d be remiss in my duties if I failed to point out that Snow Hollow received a good amount of praise during its time in the limelight. In 2020, the flick was nominated for ‘Best Independent Film’ at the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. Also in 2020, the Fright Meter Awards christened it with two nominations: one for ‘Best Editing’ and another for Robert Forster’s work as ‘Best Supporting Actor.’ Lastly, the 2021 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards nominated Cummings’ work in the category of ‘Best Lead Performance’ as well as giving the entire film a nod in the category of ‘Best Limited Release Film.’ While it may not have taken home any statues, it definitely opened more than a few eyes with its monstrous charm.
I suspect if you’ve never heard of The Wolf Of Snow Hollow (2020) is likely because marketing struggled to functionally identify it and a potential audience. (Well, that and the COVID stuff I mentioned at the beginning.) It’s part Comedy. It’s part Horror. It’s part Thriller. Heck, it’s even part family Drama. Like a good many of the better sleeper films, it kinda/sorta flirts with a handful of genres, never quite settling into a particular niche, and that’s because it’s these characters that compel the story and not the other way around (as is the case in more traditional genre entries). Sometimes dark (and sometimes not), I’d probably best describe it as a cross between Fox TV’s stellar The X-Files with the Coen Brothers’ equally popular Fargo (1996).
For what it’s worth, that’s a damn good mix.