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“The Wolf Of Snow Hallow” Finds Awkward Comedy In A Horror-Tinged Murder Mystery

Two movies in, actor and writer/director Jim Cummings has certainly proven to be a talent full of idiosyncrasies. His debut, Thunder Road, made him someone to watch, while now, we have his sophomore feature to consider. Hitting this week, The Wolf of Snow Hallow sees Cummings turning his odd eye to genre, while very much keeping his voice intact. The result isn’t quite comedy and isn’t quite horror, but there’s a murder mystery element throughout that oddly fits his blackly comedic voice. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel or really push him forward as a storyteller, but as a lightly entertaining lark, it does the trick.

The film is a mix of comedy and horror, centered on a series of murders in a small Utah mountain town. First, it’s a woman on vacation with her boyfriend. Then, it’s a ski instructor. And so on. It always happens on a full moon, stressing out the townsfolk and leading them, as well as some cops, to wonder aloud about a potential werewolf situation. Officer John Marshall (Cummings), is more stressed out than anyone, but dismissive of anything supernatural. He figures it’s just a serial killer, one they’ll eventually catch, even though the department is fairly inept. The only signs of competency there are in Officer Julia Robson (Riki Lindhome), and John’s dad, Sheriff Hadley (Robert Forster), who’s in ailing health. Between the case, his father’s poor health, his estranged teenage daughter Jenna (Chloe East) coming to live with him, and his overall high-strung nature, he’s slowly losing it. As the murders pile up, can he get it together enough to figure out just what the hell is going on? Cummings writes and directs, with music by Ben Lovett, as well as cinematography by Natalie Kingston. The rest of the cast includes Skyler Bible, Kevin Changaris, Laura Coover, Demetrius Daniels, and more.

Jim Cummings is a better actor and writer than he is a director, but his filmmaker is hardly anything to overly critique. It’s just somewhat bland, in comparison to his expressive acting and clever screenwriting. Performance wise, he’s solid, though Chloe East’s exasperated daughter and especially Riki Lindhome’s competent cop are best in show. Plus, it’s always a delight to see the late Robert Forster, and he’s reliably good here in what may have been his final role. The cast all commit to the film’s odd tone, which is a must. Otherwise, what Cummings was going for would have fallen completely flat.

The Wolf of Snow Hallow is full of quirks, but they don’t detract from the genre play at hand. It’s debatable how much they enhance it, if at all, but Cummings is an interesting enough filmmaker that the flick never gets away from him. If it sounds like a middling product, it’s not. There just isn’t a ton of comedy or horror here. It’s just a black comedy vibe with some murders, which somehow proves to be just enough to carry the day. The flick won’t blow your mind, but it does make 90 minutes pass by in a hurry, and that’s worth something.

Now playing, The Wolf of Snow Hallow is a unique genre outing that will intrigue those who like comedy just as much as those who dig horror. In particular, if you saw and enjoyed Cummings’ Thunder Road, this will be up your alley as well. Keep your expectations in check somewhat, though. As long as you do, this is not a hard movie to enjoy, at all. Give it a shot and see what you think…

Be sure to check out The Wolf of Snow Hallow, out now!

(Photos courtesy of Orion Classics)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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