Writer/director Jim Cummings follows up his debut feature at the helm, Thunder Road, with the highly entertaining werewolf outing The Wolf of Snow Hollow.
Cummings portrays officer and recovering alcoholic John Marshall, a bullheaded personality who can go from silent to raging at the slightest disagreement. He is in line to succeed his aged father Sherriff Hadley (played marvelously by the late, great Robert Forster), who just won’t retire despite having a bad ticker. When the vicious killing of a young woman occurs by the light of a full moon, officials are torn as to whether the act was committed by an animal, a man, or a lycanthrope. Things only get muddier as the slayings continue.
Part horror movie, part police procedural, part comedy, and part character study, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a riveting, energetic ride. How much viewers will enjoy the film could depend greatly on how they feel about the John Marshall character. There’s no denying how good Cummings is in the role, as he gives a master’s class on acting here. His character, though, is an absolute [list your own string of expletives here] — flying off the handle at the slightest disagreement with him, firing men or threatening to have their jobs because they point out what a poor job he has done, not caring for his teenage daughter who is about to go off to college, berating fellow members of his Alcoholics Anonymous meeting — the list goes on and on. Mileage will vary with each viewer, but for me — fully realizing that much of the character’s actions and words are meant to be darkly comical — I found the character boorish and unlikeable, and therefore wasn’t invested in him as a protagonist who I wanted to see succeed in the end. Again, Cummings absolutely nails his portrayal, and deserves much praise for that. The rest of the cast is solid, too, including Forster giving a superb showing in his final role, playing the stubborn block from which the chip came off, and Riki Lindhome shining in each of her scenes as Officer Julia Robson.
The horror aspect of the film is well done, and fans of practical effects werewolf work will find plenty to enjoy here, as will gorehounds. Cummings shows a keen knack for suspense as a director, and much of the third act and climax showcases that.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow works as both a fun slice of fright fare and a dramedy about a flawed man’s coming to terms with his father’s mortality, his fractured relationship with his daughter, and accepting his own myriad shortcomings.
Strongly recommended, The Wolf of Snow Hollow, from Orion Pictures, will be available on digital and open in select theaters on October 9th.