By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Writer/director/actor Jim Cummings first got my attention when I experienced his feature film debut Thunder Road at 2018’s SXSW Film Festival. Because Cummings created and starred in an incredible, low budget indie pic that hits all the right notes, I was truly blown away by his talents and sincerely hoped that this success would lead to more amazing work. Well, two years later Cummings’ sophomore feature, a comedic horror film closes out A Celebration of Fantastic Fest and I am happy to report that his new movie doesn’t disappoint. Though not as remarkable as his first movie, The Wolf of Snow Hollow does offer an impressive mix of comedy, horror, heartfelt drama, with another tremendous performance by the versatile artist.
Cummings stars as Deputy Sheriff John Marshall. Living in Snow Hollow, police work is mostly uneventful, but Marshall already has plenty to deal with on his plate. Marshall struggles day to day as a recovering alcoholic, divorcee, loving parent to daughter Jenna (Chloe East) and frustrated son to his ailing father Sheriff Hadley (Robert Forster). Hadley, despite his chronic ailments, refuses to retire as Sheriff, but can barely continue serving as chief of law enforcement. When a series of seemingly related murders begins to plague their quiet, snowy town, Marshall has to step up beyond and above his usual duties and get down to the bottom of this serious situation. To further complicate matters, the local townspeople begin to believe that the murders might not be at the hands of a serial murder, but at the claws and fangs of a werewolf.
Even though Cummings never gets as deep and emotional as he does in Thunder Road, he still manages to get into some, seemingly deep and personal themes with Snow Hollow. Once again the filmmaker walks a fine line between comedy and drama, with both sides offering some strikingly powerful results. Occasionally the movie comes across more awkwardly comedic when it should probably be dramatic, but this reveals the fearlessness of Cummings who isn’t afraid to play both of these sides interchangably.
As an actor, Cummings plays a somewhat similar role as his character in Thunder Road. Marshall always seems to be out of his element. He probably got his job through nepotism and has yet to prove himself as a worthy law man. There is a certain manic quality to his character which feels nearly identical to the character in his leading role in Thunder Road This is only indicative of the fact that Cummings really puts his heart into his roles, and isn’t afraid to take some major risks. This movie also features some tremendous work by Riki Lindhome, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, and Robert Forster who passed away after filming his part.
Though the movie is labeled as a comedy/horror film, the proceedings here aren’t all that scary, but are rather suspenseful and dramatic. It is definitely heartening to see that Cummings is probably not just a flash in the pan or a miraculous fluke that accidentally struck gold, but is simply a courageous and talented artist who puts much heart and soul into his work. I must highly recommend The Wolf of Snow Hollow to not only fans of Thunder Road, but people who have yet to discover the talent of Jim Cummings. And to those people who haven’t seen Thunder Road, I recommend that they seek it out as soon as possible.