It’s also far more visually confident than people may be expecting. “Thunder Road” was a solid dramedy but with “Snow Hollow” Cummings uses space to build tension (with ace cinematography from Natalie Kingston), and the excellent editing by Patrick Nelson Barnes and R. Brett Thomas both hides the low budget and increases the discomfort. You know the way that intense cold reaches your bones? You feel that while you’re watching “Snow Hollow,” as icy and chilly a movie as I’ve seen in a long time.
The snow-covered setting and bumbling cops, along with Cummings’ deadpan sense of humor, have led to comparisons to the Coen brothers and there is a sense of “’Fargo’ meets ‘Silver Bullet’” in some of “The Wolf of Snow Hollow,” but it’s not like Cummings wears his influences as obviously as some genre filmmakers. Everything from Universal monster movies to John Carpenter feels like they’re in the fabric of this piece but he never succumbs to the obvious shout-outs that often make films like this feel like cheap imitations. And he directs performers well. His performance is the centerpiece, but he draws a gentle, poignant turn out of Forster, whom it’s impossible not to miss already.
Around the 45-minute mark of “The Wolf of Snow Hollow,” the film starts to feel a bit rushed as scenes and twists pile up and Cummings pushes to his closing revelations. I appreciate how tight this movie is at around 80 minutes, but it’s the rare recent movie that could have actually been a bit longer. Let us live more in John Marshall’s nervous breakdown and the rising panic of the town around him instead of being in such a hurry to get to the film’s closing twists.
However, Cummings never completely loses the rhythm and he even finds a way to make “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” topical. A warning to the comment section that this is undeniably and explicitly a werewolf movie about toxic masculinity. John even has a speech about how the myth of the werewolf came about as a way to explain horrific violence against women, often committed in the light of the full moon because it allowed them to see what they were doing. It couldn’t be men. It must be the wolf’s fault. And the film’s final turns only amplify this theme, one that doesn’t feel tacked onto the narrative as much as inherently a part of a genre that has long been built on damsels in distress. This time, a filmmaker is willing to interrogate what that says about mankind too.