A stressed-out police officer named John Marshall (Jim Cummings) struggles not to give in to the paranoia that grips his small mountain town as bodies turn up after each full moon.
In the past few years, a new voice has emerged in the filmmaking and acting community and has taken the film world by storm – that voice is Jim Cummings. You may get him confused with the voice actor of the same name, but Cummings is a relatively new talent. He has directed a couple of short films throughout the 2010s, but when he made his feature film Thunder Road back in 2018, many people quickly paid attention to Cummings’ talents.
It was clear with that intense and biting comedy-drama that Cummings has extreme talent, and it was so exciting to see a fresh and invigorating new voice in the industry. He is one of the filmmakers I have looked up to most in the past few years. Fast-forward to October 2020, and he has just put out a brand new film – a comedy horror drama titled The Wolf of Snow Hollow.
As with any other film, regardless of the director or cast, I didn’t watch any of the trailers for the film, but I did see some still frames and the promotional material accompanying it. To say that it grabbed my attention would be a massive understatement. Everything about it looked like a stylish hybrid between an old-school 80s slasher movie and an intense psychological drama. I am happy to report that The Wolf of Snow Hollow is exactly that.
It’s a film that blends so many different genres together, and you can’t help but respect that. Sometimes the transition between comedy and drama didn’t always work well and came across a little bit jarring, but it works in other scenes. Where this movie shines is in its horror and psychological thriller elements.
Some people will look at the incredibly short eighty-three minute running time and will be somewhat put off by that, and I understand. How can you make an engrossing drama that’s not even an hour and a half? You need time to flesh out the characters and tell an investing storyline. Thankfully, Cummings’ script manages to do exactly that despite the short running time.
He crams a ton of detail in all of the lead characters but it never feels rushed or forced. The first twenty minutes of the film are dedicated to learning about our main protagonists. Once we get a good understanding of who everybody is, the film quickly shows its teeth as a gritty and immensely atmospheric thrill-ride from start to finish.
One of the most beloved elements of Cumming’s previous picture Thunder Road was his performance as Jim Arnuad. In that role, he felt extremely nuanced and layered. His performance felt so real and so grounded and it took viewers by complete surprise. He is an actor that hasn’t been in much, but that doesn’t change the fact that he may be one of the best actors working today.
While his performance in the aforementioned Thunder Road was strong, his performance here as Officer John Marshall is his best work to date. Every time he is on screen, he feels in complete control of the scene. His intense acting range, his facial expressions, and line delivery all stand out as remarkable in The Wolf of Snow Hollow. He’s hugely intimidating in the role as well. One minute he comes across as an average man doing his job, and the next, you feel like he could snap and do something crazy at any second.
This is the type of movie that will definitely inspire some up-and-coming filmmakers out there in the world. Cummings is well known for making movies with incredibly small budgets, and I’m sure that The Wolf of Snow Hollow is no exception. It’s so impressive and inspiring to see a filmmaker who is clearly so passionate about their work and will stop at nothing to get their project completed in the way they envisioned it.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is an excellent and gritty psychological horror-comedy with an engrossing script and a fantastic lead performance from Jim Cummings.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: R for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use
Directed by: Jim Cummings
Distributed by: United Artists Releasing
Release Date: October 9, 2020
Running Time: 83 minutes