Auld Lang Syne

Stop whenever a cliché appears in The Wolf of Snow Hollow and there’s no going forward. Small town, killer monster, a sheriff near retirement, upcoming resort season, an alcoholic deputy, teen sex, local hicks, women victims; Wolf of Snow Hollow uses them all.

Rather than prop the story up with those traditional horror motifs, Wolf of Snow Hollow finds humor in most. Black, dark, sordid humor. Where the aging sheriff is often poised as a proud, even happy cop, here he sits in a closet nursing a heart condition, away from reporter’s eyes. The addict deputy fails to address the stress as bodies mount, lashing out – hilariously – as control slips away. Ski season? That’s shut down after one kill.

The reality of it all makes Wolf of Snow Hollow so aggressively entertaining

Set in Utah, there’s a comical cultural balancing act. “Who wants to throw a beer bottle at a cop car?” asks John Marshall (Jim Cummings), blissfully unaware of wider protests. Sheriff Hadley (Robert Forster) asks to pray with his team before heading out to hunt a serial killer, but stops himself because that might not be legal anymore. Wolf of Snow Hollow toys with isolation and social bubbles, where communal changes glacially seep in, almost imperceptibly, while the community resentfully acknowledges progress.

The reality of it all makes Wolf of Snow Hollow so aggressively entertaining. Cop TV and movies create these unemotional caricatures who stand over crime scenes, dissecting the events, seething at the gore before them. Marshall though can’t handle anything. He flinches in the morgue; people feed him too much information, overwhelming his senses; Marshall misses embarrassingly obvious clues. More than a flawed protagonist, Cummings plays this character with a fantastic authenticity, separated from decades of stock heroes. It’s funny in breaking those tropes, a self-awareness, as much as laughs pop from the writing and/or delivery.

Plus, there’s a mystery, leaning into the resistance to accept werewolves as real. Cummings is sure they cannot exist; his co-workers remain open to the idea. Wolf of Snow Hollow makes either possibility reasonable, questioning whether it’s Marshall’s addiction or paranoia acting out in a place where murder is practically unknown. It’s smart, a little meta too in tackling the horror genre, and consistently lively. At 80-minutes, there’s never a slowdown or wasted scene. Just ruthless comedy, inventive even when relying on a generic base.

Video

Sadly plain digital video never brings much visual oomph. Lagging definition anywhere other than in close leaves Wolf of Snow Hollow dulled in HD. Medium shots appear outright processed, smothered by a messy lack of texture. Aerials suffer significant loss, even artifacting, lessening the otherwise gorgeous, snow-draped scenery.

Wolf of Snow Hollow isn’t much for depth either, whiffing black level density. Undoubtedly a conscious aesthetic choice, the brown-ish shadows sap dimensionality. Brightness excels at least, the snow providing that backdrop, and nicely nuanced as to never clip highlights.

Graded with a light sepia push, the wash pushes the palette toward a brown hue. Low saturation lets little color escape, softening flesh tones, even dimming blood’s redness. The output looks mild, diluted even, paired nicely to the tone.

Audio

Driven by the stereos almost exclusively, DTS-HD focuses on stereos for positional use. Rear engagement becomes noticeable only due to how unusual it is, like glass breaking. Channel separation across the fronts accentuates action a bit, unspectacular, if reasonable in a low-budget sense.

Other than shotgun blasts, forget the subwoofer. It’s given nothing to do in a dialog-driven effort.

Extras

Two pitifully short EPKs, a minor four-minute peek at the story process, and great (if too brief) look at the wolf suit’s creation fill the menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

While basing itself on endless tropes, Wolf of Snow Hollow finds a clever way to use standard horror for comedy and reality.

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