An absurdly funny, dark comic take on small town Americana in the throes of serial murders (possibly perpetrated by a werewolf), The Wolf of Snow Hollow stars writer-director Jim Cummings as John Marshall, a sheriff’s deputy and son to Hollow’s aging chief (Robert Forster). He’s an alcoholic with a short fuse, a chip on his shoulder, and childhood trauma in his back pocket. He’s trying so hard to be a hero cop that he becomes an erratic basket case bent on nabbing the killer by any means necessary, a killer he is convinced is a man and simply a murderer of women and NOT some werewolf. As John puts it to his lazy comrades who want to leave this case to the Feds, “you want people to stop talking shit about the police? Do good police work.” As a writer, Cummings never forgets the world around Snow Hollow, so unlike so many small town stories, this is not a film completely divorced from the reality of modern America. There’s bigotry, misogyny, and an intriguing subtext that posits Marshall as one man desperately trying to prove that policemen can still save the day, no matter how boneheaded their personal choices might be.
In his last screen role, Forster is a hoot as a sheriff stubbornly hanging onto a waning career with retirement on the horizon and his heart in disarray. Riki Lindholme makes good as a meek officer with better investigative talents than she lets on, a woman nimbly navigating the testosterone-fueled department and quietly doing what she can to better her village in the rough. Jimmy Tatro appears as an L.A. transplant whose girlfriend was the first victim, his angry tears lending genuine pathos to the trail of bodies left behind by the titular wolf. Snow Hollow works better as a dark comedy and examination of the American tundra (think Fargo) than as a horror film, although it has its thrilling moments too. I’ve yet to see his debut Thunder Road, but what Hollow proves more than anything is that Jim Cummings truly is a quadruple threat as a deft writer, good director, riveting actor, and funny comedian. Watching his character lose his temper at every turn is a comic treasure, and if you think it’s too late to watch it now that Halloween has come and gone, know it’s low-key a Christmas movie as well.
Currently available on demand (VUDU, Fandango Now, Google Play)