The Wolf of Snow Hollow – Blu-ray Review
Film Title: The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)
Release Date: 2020
Runtime: 85 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray
– Amazon Commissions Earned –
Blu-ray Release Date: 12/15/20
Director: Jim Cummings
Cast: Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Robert Forster, Chloe East, Will Madden, Annie Hamilton, Jimmy Tatro, Hannah Elder, Kelsey Edwards, Skyler Bible, Demetrius Daniels, Kevin Changaris, Anna Sward
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Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“The Wolf of Snow Hollow” was a 2020 film that blended comedy, drama, and horror. The movie was written and directed by Jim Cummings, who also stars in the leading role as well. Jim Cummings, not to be confused with the voice actor, is known for producing, writing, and directing another film he also starred in called “Thunder Road” (2018). Cummings has also worked in the VFX field as a production assistant at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) on the film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) and has served as producer on numerous short films and feature-length films most notably“13 Cameras” (2015) and “Krisha” (2015).
The story here takes place in a small snowy mountain town where they’re mostly used to folks coming to vacation and to ski and/or snowboard. We first see a bit of that approach when the film opens up when a young couple has come to vacation in the town. Well, things start to happen, and a whole lot more than a surge in tourism. In fact, there are a series of mysterious killings that transpire over the course of this story. As a result, the townspeople start to believe that it could’ve been a werewolf, getting caught up in the panic of it all.
The term “cooler heads prevail” is one that comes to mind here, only in a uniquely ironic sense, as our film’s protagonist is a dysfunctional police officer named “John Marshall” (Jim Cummings). John’s trying to keep it calm, being the son of the town’s aging “Sheriff Hadley” (Robert Forster) and having to run most of the investigations of these crimes. Helping John keep his calm and investigate this whole horrifying ordeal you have “Detective Julia Robson” (Riki Lindhome). She’s got things a bit more together than John, to put it nicely.
As we learn from the very opening of the film our protagonist, John Marshall, is struggling with a drinking problem and a member of a twelve-step group. John is also dealing with a failed marriage and having joint custody of a teenage daughter “Jenna” (Chloe East). As we start to see him having nothing short of a panic attack, it’s safe to say that he’s not at all keeping things together. He could start to descend it to what could be a breakdown if things keep going the way they have, you can tell, early on in the film.
However, ironically enough, John is actually one of the few people in the town — including most of the police department — who actually doesn’t think there’s a werewolf out there killing people. He may seem like a man who doesn’t have it all together, because well, frankly, he doesn’t. Still, he at least doesn’t think far-fetched things like werewolves exist and are the answer to a series of murders. Hell, don’t think he doesn’t consider the idea could even be plausible, as he even goes as far as to do some research. Still, he and the rest of the police have yet to apprehend any suspect: werewolf or human. So will they find this mysterious killer or werewolf in the small town of Snow Hollow? You’ll just have to watch and see.
Movie Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
“The Wolf of Snow Hollow” on its Blu-ray Disc debut is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. IMDb has pretty much no info on how this was shot and what cameras and lenses and such. That being said, when in doubt always check the end credits for some logos for the camera type(s). Starting out, I was for sure that this was shot digitally but I couldn’t be for sure what camera type was used on this, as the end credits lacked any mention of it. So, I was very fortunate enough to be able to find out via the director the following information about how they actually shot this movie.
“We shot digitally on the Arri Alexa Mini camera with K35 lenses in the 3.2K resolution.” — Jim Cummings
Next, let me get technical, for a bit, in regards to the Blu-ray Disc itself here. This release is using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) disc, 30.1 gigabytes total, and 25.8 gigabytes for the film itself. That’s not a huge amount of the disc being used really for the film or even the extras, but you should keep in mind this is only an 85-minute film, with standard DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound. It’s using a really decent amount of space for the film and I don’t see any signs of compression, from the encode itself, at all here like you might see streaming or watching this digitally. That’s one of the most excellent benefits of physical media.
As I had mentioned, I don’t see any compression problems at all here in this encoding of the film on the Blu-ray release. However, I do see a little bit of digital noise but that’s not to be confused with compression and is a limitation of the digital camera used for source. Now, let’s fully discuss how this 1080p HD presentation looks. The very first thing that really stood out to me was how it felt slightly gritty almost near the level of film grain during the beautiful opening credit sequence. The black level is solid, the color palette can be vibrant at times, and the flesh tones appear to be accurate. There’s an incredible amount of detail here in every single shot of this movie, from those opening credits all the way to right before the end credits roll.
The film itself on the Blu-ray is making some nice use of the disc space, running around 37Mbps, almost on average. I found it at times hitting as high as 42Mbps. That’s rather impressive itself, just from a technical perspective.
The visual effects, specifically the gore and such look great for a film made on a 2 million dollar budget. There’s some excellent cinematography here and the overall visual style of this looks just remarkably stunning. It’s rare that a film shot digitally and made on a budget of this level makes this much of a visual impact on me, having reviewed films in HD now for going on 14 years. That being said, this movie just looks great, to begin with, and is now able to run higher bitrates that bandwidth wouldn’t allow for most to stream. That’s the beautiful part about physical media, you always get a less compressed and sometimes excellent video presentation, and that is most certainly the case for “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” in its debut to the Blu-ray format. This earns itself a damn-near perfect 4.75 rating for video quality.
Video Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
Audio on the Blu-ray Disc debut of “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” comes in the form of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround mix, including a DTS 5.1 core for those not capable of fully decoding the lossless surround sound mix.
Things start up here with the original music (from the score composed by Ben Lovett), during the opening credits, using primarily the front left & right channel speakers, as well as getting a nice amount of rear channel presence. There’s this deep and dark feeling to the opening credit sequences and that comes many thanks to the original music having a pretty nice amount of bass that you will feel lightly via the subwoofer, at first. Post-opening credits, things startup with a few scenes that rely heavily on dialogue and sound effects which come across effectively in the mix, with the dialogue spot-on and driven primarily (if not entirely) from the center channel. There will be absolutely no need for making any volume adjustments here for dialogue, I can assure you of that.
The film starts out a bit slow and it builds up, along with the music which you’ll start to feel a slight bit of intensity in terms of the surround sound mix. There’s some pretty impressive LFE here at times and I felt the subwoofer getting some action from the action. All and all, this is a sound mix that is primarily driven by dialogue and sound effects along with a very powerfully effective original musical score. The lossless 5.1 surround sound mix that is found here on the Blu-ray release of “The Wolf of Snow Hollow“ earns itself a pretty impressive 4.25 rating for audio quality. The sound mix certainly has its moments and it does this film justice.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release, are presented in HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- A Digital Copy (code) of the film is included via a paper insert. This is redeemable only via the Vudu service. It will redeem in HD (HDX) with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 sound there. The bonus materials listed below are also included digitally.
The bonus materials that are on the Blu-ray Disc include:
- “The Impetus” (1 minute, 1 second – HD) serves as a short Making of The Wolf of Snow Hollow. Here you get an interview with Jim Cummings (actor, writer/director), Jimmy Tatro (“PJ Palfrey”), and the late Robert Forster (“Sheriff Hadley”).
- “Working with Jim Cummings” (1 minute, 42 seconds – HD) features interviews with cast and crew members Will Madden (“Carnury”), Matt Miller (producer), Skyler Bible (“Officer Gutierrez”), Kevin Changaris (“Officer Bo”), Robert Forster (“Sheriff Hadley”), Annie Hamilton (“Brianne”), Riki Lindhome (“Detective Julia Robson”), and Chloe East (“Jenna”).
- “The Story and the Genre” (4 minutes, 7 seconds – HD) includes some on-set footage and interviews. Those interviewed here include Matt Miller (producer), Benjamin Wiessner (producer), Jim Cummings (writer/director), Will Madden (“Carnury”), and Kevin Changaris (“Officer Bo”).
- “The Design of the Werewolf” (5 minutes, 34 seconds – HD) consists of some production diaries. The first video diary entry comes from February 8th, 2019 in Burbank, CA. at Michael’s Creature Shop. Danny Madden (creative director) is the man behind the camera. In front of the camera, for this entry, you get some candid discussion with another crew member and an interview with Michael Yale (specialty costume designer). The second video diary entry comes from February 10, 2019, in Los Angeles, CA. at Vanishing Angle Studios. The third video diary entry comes from February 13th, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA. and gives us a glimpse at the work Lauren Wilde (costume designer) and Mazena Puksto (sculptor) accomplished on the face. You’ll also get an interview and some glimpses behind the scenes. Finally, you’ll get a March 4th, 2019 video diary entry on the set in Coalville, Utah.
Overall the bonus materials here give you four short featurettes which total up to roughly 15 minutes as well as a digital copy of the film. It’s certainly enough to leave you pleased and does the film somewhat justice. I’m actually surprised there’s this much material here in terms of extras and especially for a release late in this year.
Bonus Materials Rating: 1.5 (out of 5)
“The Wolf of Snow Hollow” proves to be one very unique use of the horror genre blended with both comedy and drama in equal amounts. The performance delivered here by Jim Cummings in the lead role of “John Marshall” is pretty unforgettable itself, even if you didn’t know that he also wrote and directed the film. You factor that in and you’ll realize that he’s what his late co-star called “a triple threat” meaning that he acts, he writes, and he directs. Hell, technically Jim even produces and he has done quite a few things throughout his career. Just check his IMDb. On the subject of Cummings, as both an actor and filmmaker, I have to totally suggest you check out his film “Thunder Road” from 2018 if you enjoyed this, as he wrote & directed it and starred in it, as well.
This film features some great supporting roles, namely from Riki Lindhome (as “Detective Johnson”) and the late Robert Forster (as “Sheriff Hadley”) in what would be his final on-screen performance. Reportedly this movie had a 2 million budget. Let’s face it, 2020 was a unique year for movies, that much should probably go without me even having to say it. However, some films really managed to shine through during this time where the theatrical experience has to be mostly if not entirely at home. All I can say is, invest more in your home theater, folks. It is where you do view most of your movies and TV shows and this year has been one where you’ve seen films like this have great success with that type of launch and then now physically on home video with this Blu-ray release.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is just a truly different film, there’s really no way to not just say that upfront. You’re going to see a man struggling mentally here to deal with a whole lot going on in his life currently, with a series of murders happening under his watch as a police officer, and then see some of his own personal life and past come back to haunt him. We all have our own demons of sorts inside and for this man it is his struggle with alcoholism and with his very stressful and frankly dysfunctional life. In a very dark way, there’s humor to be found here in the sheer amount of things that go wrong at times and I don’t mean to dish out any “spoilers” thereby saying that. Let’s just say that things can get pretty downright comical at times. The realistic nature of how life is full of these types of moments did all the more to make this story and the protagonist character feel somewhat relatable or something you could empathize with.
As I mentioned, I was fortunate enough to talk to this film’s director and while doing so I had the guts to try to describe how I felt after seeing the film to Jim Cummings. This is what I ended up saying.
“I laughed and might have even cried watching a werewolf movie. That may say a lot about me but it sure as shit also says a whole hell of a lot more about both the comedic and heartfelt sides that this film has to offer, aside from just the horror. This is the type of horror film that will truly leave you thinking.”
Like I said, maybe it says a lot about me and maybe my rating for this film itself does as well, but I stick by it. Films are meant to be forms of escapism and this felt like just that, and I got to know a character and see them go through one hell of an experience throughout the course of the film and there’s no “spoiler” there, nor intended. This film is fun, it’s emotionally moving at times, it’s funny, it’s sad, and it’s even scary because after all there is a werewolf apparently in this small town? You’ll have to watch the film to find out if the protagonist is right about things or not. I won’t even go there.
In terms of video quality, this movie looks pretty damn impressive from start to finish. This benefits from being shot digitally at 3.2K resolution, regardless of if it received a 2K DI (digital intermediate) or not. It makes for one visually appealing HD presentation that comes with a large amount of clarity and detail. The cinematography here is also impressive and this Blu-ray manages to do that as well as the film itself justice.
In terms of audio quality, this lossless 5.1 mix manages to get the job done for this type of film. First and foremost the dialogue is delivered distinctly all throughout. It has enough rear channel presence for the music and sound effects and all, as well as a pretty nice amount of bass. Speaking of which the primarily LFE represented via the subwoofer all throughout can be at times somewhat impressive. It’s an effective surround mix and I found it to do the film justice for sound.
The bonus materials here consist of just four short featurettes that total up to roughly around 15 minutes in length and then there’s a digital copy of the film which is only redeemable on the Vudu service. You get the same extras as on this disc via the digital version of the film as well. So, it’s a nice short little set of supplemental material that proves to most certainly be worth the watch after you’ve seen the film.
All and all, “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” on Blu-ray Disc makes for a recommended film and release on the format. It’s a film that I really found to be worthwhile and the presentation here is impressive.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.75 (out of 5) for video quality
4.25 (out of 5) for audio quality
1.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials