Werewolf stories invite duality.
I mean, obviously, right? The werewolf myth is one that’s built around the split between the monster and the human, and the best stories about full-moon beasts take on that notion to give a deep-dive into just where that split might be. Or, otherwise, just being American Werewolf in London. That works, too.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow, actually, takes some cues from John Landis’ iconic werewolf classic (and, for what it’s worth, one of my favourite horror films of all time). Directed by Jim Cummings, mind behind and star of cult black comedy Thunder Road, Snow Hollow approaches the werewolf story, first and foremost, with a sense of humour. Pitch-black and appropriately ice-cold, it’s a movie packed full of sharp, inventive comedy that centers Cummings (who also leads the film as John Marshall) and his ability to deliver a fork-tongued smackdown as the ex-alcoholic cop trying to lead the small-town investigation into a stack of murders that seem to revolve around the full moon.
And that’s the overarching plot, really – a whodunnit, a procedural set against the snowy, barren backdrop of Snow Hollow, and following a wildly under-equipped police force as they attempt to unpack the bizarre murders plaguing the town on the full moon. And the horror aspects of this story are pretty solidly-executed; solid scares, a spooky monster, more than serviceable special effects. If you’re coming to this movie just looking for a straight horror, you’re not going to be let down.
But it’s with the duality aspect that Snow Hollow really thrives; as much as the apparent werewolf is split between beast and man, so is John. Snow Hollow is, more explicitly, about John’s complete emotional breakdown and relapse into alcoholism as his failure to solve the case compounds his existing issues into something explosive and catastrophic. Don’t get it twisted, this is still a sharp comedy, but it’s one that isn’t afraid to churn up the melted snow into something with a little more icy bite. Cummings puts in a killer performance, and this is a great showcase for both his writing and his acting talent.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is hiding a deceptively interesting take on the genre beneath what looks like a standard-issue cover, and it’s for sure one of the best new horrors of this Halloween. If you’re looking for a fun new twist on the classic monster movie, this is the movie for you.
(header image via Den of Geek)