By Christian DiMartino
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: the world is not ready for Jim Cummings.
Not the wonderful Jim Cummings who’s provided voice work for decades. I’m talking about Jim Cummings, the writer/director/star of one of 2018’s best films, Thunder Road. Thunder Road is one of the best films you haven’t seen. A film that made you uncomfortable while it made you sad, while you were laughing, all anchored by a performance by Cummings so miraculous and difficult, it should’ve shot him all the way to the top. It still hasn’t, and it’s your fault. The film is streaming on Amazon Prime video people, so, chop chop, and spread the word.
Anyways, Cummings is back two years later with The Wolf of Snow Hollow, a horror comedy that seems like a complete 180 considering his last film, which was about a mentally damaged cop who juggled his job, his divorce, and the death of his mother. As it turns out though, it’s almost as if Cummings decided to take his character from Thunder Road, and place him in another scenario. Thus, we have The Wolf of Snow Hollow.
A part of me wishes Cummings had gone another route here, because I know he can handle this role, I know he’s great in this role, and I want to see what else he can do. But… eh, I won’t complain too much, because once again, Cummings is just so good with this material. Seeing as he’s written and directed his material for both films, it only makes sense that he’s written and directed what he knows and is comfortable with.
Here we find Cummings playing Deputy John Marshall, a police officer in a snowy Wyoming town who has drinking problems, doesn’t have a very good relationship with his daughter or ex-wife, and worries about the health issues of his father, the sheriff (the late Robert Forster). So again, a familiar set-up, having seen the previous film. The difference this time though is in the genre and concept. There is a werewolf of the sorts going around the town and killing specifically women, so Marshall must soon juggle that, on top of everything else.
What I loved about Thunder Road was the way that, often times, it felt as if he were juggling multiple genres at once- there were all kinds of emotions at play throughout. He does the same thing again in The Wolf of Snow Hollow, and just as successfully. The film is a whodunit and a horror film and a drama… and it also happens to be sharply written and funny, and sometimes it happens to be all of these things at once.
In the end, The Wolf of Snow Hollow isn’t quite as successful as its predecessor though. While it is funny and consistently entertaining, it also isn’t quite as focused and, even though enjoyable in this regard, it’s familiar. It’s a crisp 83 minutes, but maybe Cummings might’ve benefitted from doing a bit more with the werewolf mystery itself. Sure, it’s the basis of the plot, but it doesn’t necessarily leave you in suspense. With that said though, maybe Cummings himself wasn’t interested in that as much as he was his central character. To that, I say, ditto.
Also, if it hasn’t been made clear, see Thunder Road.