Finding a murderer is the least of this harried cop’s problems…
By Diana Beechener
Officer John Marshall (Jim Cummings: Greener Grass) is holding on by his fingernails. He’s in the midst of a contentious custody dispute with his ex. His aging sheriff father (Robert Forster: Better Call Saul) refuses to retire in spite of health problems, leaving John to attempt to run the police department and hide his father’s condition. He’s using his AA meetings as a form of cheap therapy to control the stress and anger he feels all the time.
Then the first body drops.
A woman is torn to pieces in front of her boyfriend under a full moon. It’s a shocking crime for Snow Hollow, a sleepy little ski town in Utah, and the police force has no idea what to do. They barely have a forensics unit, the EMT is grossed out by the body, and the deputies stupidly yell out theories near the press. The whole situation is a nightmare for John, who is just about at his wit’s end when another woman is brutally attacked beneath a full moon.
John fears there’s a serial killer in Snow Hollow. The rest of the police and the residents, however, believe there’s a werewolf hunting on the snowy banks of their town. Can John prove that magical creatures don’t exist? Or is a werewolf about to send him into a nervous breakdown?
A horror comedy about one man unraveling amidst blood and gore, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a shockingly funny, smart flick with a lot to say about the real monsters of society. Cummings, who also wrote and directed the film wisely makes the story about an unraveling man instead of a monster. This is a movie about small towns and how people who shouldn’t be cops often end up running the precinct. The entire force of Snow Hollow is unprepared to stop the brutal killings, and frankly don’t want to. They just want to write tickets and let the FBI handle it.
Only John wants to work the case, and that’s a problem because though he’s competent as an investigator, he’s also a rageaholic cop who hits his fellow officers, snarls at his daughter for disobeying him, and manages to bungle just about every social interaction he’s involved in. Yet, it’s hard to hate him, because Cummings lets you really steep in John’s growing frustration. No one does their job. No one cares that John’s trying his best. They just keep heaping problems on John until he cracks.
But the real monster in Cumming’s smart scary movie might just be toxic masculinity. The only other competent officer on the force is Julia (Riki Lindhome: Knives Out), who is a dedicated investigator. Yet Julia is never invited to the diner to discuss the case. People talk over her or don’t listen when she’s giving forensic reports. While John desperately wants to see the killer, Julia has to work just to be seen at all.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is brash, wryly observant, and filled with subtle shout-outs to great horror movies. It also has some truly lovely cinematography from Natalie Kingston (Wandering Stars) that evokes 1930s Universal horror movies and John Carpenter’s greatest hits. It’s also the rare movie that could be a little longer, running an efficient 83 minutes. Cumming’s characters are so much fun it would be easy to spend some more time with them.
If you’re in the market for a smart slow-burn flick that manages to be genuinely creepy and laugh-out-loud funny, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a great choice. Filled with hilarious characters and an incisive plot, it’s a great break from the usual gore fare you get every October.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is available for $15 from Amazon Prime.
Great Comedy Horror * R * 83 mins.