Cinema Review: The Wolf of Snow Hollow | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, October 29th, 2020  

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

Studio: Orion Classics
Directed by Jim Cummings

Oct 08, 2020 Web Exclusive
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With his second full length feature, Jim Cummings follows up the quirky and touching Thunder Road with a very different beast. The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a shadowy mix of monster horror, detective thriller and a small-town whodunit which sees Cummings adopt the role (once again) of a cop completely out of his depth.

Officer John Marshall - played by Cummings sans moustache - will feel oddly familiar to Thunder Road fans, a combustible mixture of tempestuous anger, inadequacy, bravado and modern melancholy. But this time the stakes are higher.

There are grisly murders happening in the wintery town of Snow Hollow.

“This is scary. It’s new. I never saw a body like that” remarks Sheriff Hadley – the ever-brilliant Robert Forster in his last film role. The brutality of the killing feels new and confusing to an ageing Sheriff who remembers the days when good guys locked up bad guys. Was it ever that way? Probably not, but nostalgia has taken over now. He’s at an age that will be painfully relevant for all millennials watching this film.

“What is this? 11 new emails since this morning? Jesus Christ!”

With his health failing, the Sheriff is on his way out the door. But John’s concerns stretch beyond the professional, to the paternal. With his father’s frailty coming to the fore at just the wrong moment, John seems caught between the shadow of his father’s legacy and his own destiny. His concerns only fall on his father’s particularly stubborn ears.

To make matters worse the he has a fraught relationship with his own teenage daughter who seems to be developing into a young woman just as the (dismembered) bodies of young women seem to be piling up. If that wasn’t enough on his plate, John is a recovering alcoholic too.

If this all sounds like it might be too much for one person to cope with then you’d be right. John is falling apart, unable to maintain professional and personal relationships, whilst at the same time failing to solve a series of gruesome murders where the evidence all points in one rather fantastical direction.

There seems to be a strong allegory here for the millennial experience, with a generation seeing the rapid bruising change of the last 30 years hit them head on. A generation caught between increasingly nostalgic parents and grandparents and an even younger generation whose carefree, reckless abandon is all at once frustrating, familiar and even alluring.

Where do we – as sons and fathers – fit into all of this? Cummings seems particularly adept at unpacking the crisis in modern masculinity, with millennial men bridging an awkward gap between common notions of what it means to be a man, and the damage these ideas can do when it all just gets…too…much. In the midst of a breakdown we just say everything is ok.

Quietly in the background, as is often the case, the women are holding it all together. Officer Julia Robson (Riki Lindhome) is smart, funny and admired. She seems a far better fit for Sheriff than John, who perhaps only qualifies as a candidate in the same way that first-born males are made Kings. Julia’s measured approach a stark contrast to John’s rash decisions. She’s seen this before. Women suffering horribly from the rage of men.

As gatekeepers between the status quo and a full-on descent into the madness of men’s most destructive tendencies, it seems to be women who take the brunt. “You think women have had to deal with this shit since the middle ages?” asks John earnestly. Julia gives him a look.

Cummings manages to show us just enough of the female victims to make us care, the only knock being that the killer’s motivations receive little exposure. That may well be the point here though. Men can turn into beasts very quickly, able to destroy the women around them just because they can.

The very fact that Cummings manages to pack this level of consideration into a bite-sized thriller – coming in at a very digestible 83 minutes – is testament to his obvious skill as a writer and director. Eventually John has his reckoning with the beast, but it doesn’t quite go as he imagined it. Instead Cummings leaves his mark with a razor-sharp swipe at toxic masculinity and the beast within all of us.

Author rating: 7/10

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