Movie Review: A Good Creature Feature For Halloween
A lot of us are probably staying in this Halloween, which means we’ll be looking for something spooky to watch. I’ll put in a plug for The Wolf of Snow Hollow, a flawed but highly entertaining new monster movie from director Jim Cummings.
Cummings had a small indie hit a few years back with Thunder Road, and while I didn’t love that one, you could definitely see he had potential. And with this film, he’s improved dramatically.
Cummings plays a police deputy in a small Utah mountain town that starts to see a series of grisly murders. Stories begin to swirl, including among his fellow officers, that the killings are the work of something monstrous, possibly even a werewolf. Cummings insists they’re simply the work of a depraved human being, which is quite a reasonable conclusion since, you know, werewolves don’t actually exist. But we, the viewers, aren’t kept in the dark long, and it becomes clear that, ok, yeah, that sure looks like a werewolf.
Cummings has a knack for surprising humor, both with his dialogue and a few shock moments that made me laugh and cringe almost simultaneously. I appreciated that he didn’t make his character a bumbling cop, which would have been the easy route—he’s no world-class detective, that’s for sure, but he’s not dumb, and he cares deeply about what’s going on. And Cummings lets him be a complex person: a recovering alcoholic who’s trying to navigate a divorce, the safety of his teenage daughter, and his frustrating relationship with his father, the chief of police, played by the late Robert Forster. There is an unfortunate stretch toward the end in which Cummings’ misery becomes cartoonish, which I’d hoped he’d moved past as a filmmaker, but thankfully he recovers before the credits roll.
There are also some wild tonal shifts, swinging from goofy, to poignant, to grotesque, and maybe even crossing into distasteful, depending on your sensibilities. This can sometimes be way too jarring. Still, as long as you can look past its rather glaring problems, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a pretty darn good creature feature for a Halloween night.