Orion Classics has a very quirky Halloween entry this year. The Wolf of Snow Hollow is part off-beat comedy, horror, murder mystery, thriller and runs a close second to one of my favorites, An American Werewolf in London. Once again Jim Cummings proves to be a triple threat as writer/director and star of this fanciful frightmare that has us guessing until the very end who is who.
Cummings plays John Marshall, alcoholic, frustrated divorcee with a strained relationship with his teen daughter and the underdog of a deputy trying to fill his ailing sheriff’s big shoes, who is like a father figure to him. Oh, did I mention Marshall is also in need of anger management? Take this mix and add a very gruesome murder in the small mountain town that leaves some believing it could be the work of a werewolf. Of course, Marshall scoffs at the thought and becomes ill tempered whenever any of his people insist it is not the sign of man or one of the usual beasts: wolf or bear.
As Marshall tries to keep his life under control (and the sheriff in check so he does not keel over), another murder takes place during a full moon. This one more violent than the other. The town panics. Marshall is chastised for not finding the killer in time, and he begins to lose his battle with alcoholism.
It all sounds very serious, but somehow writer/director Cummings injects a very bizarre sense of humor throughout, throwing us off by entertaining us with his frustration. We don’t exactly root for Marshall nor do we take pity, but we feel his pain and cannot wait until he can actually manage to get things together.
Robert Forster plays a grounded Sheriff Hadley. He can’t help but have faith in Marshal and acts much like a father figure. He’s too proud to acknowledge his illness and retire. He becomes more of a hindrance than a help, mentally, for Marshall. But, he is always pushing forward not eliminating any possibility of who or what the killer is. This was Mr. Forster’s last film, and for such a small independent he brings his “A” game as he has done with many of his roles including in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants and Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.