FrightFest review – Red Snow (2021)

My notes on Red Snow

Olivia Romo (Dennice Cisneros) is spending the Christmas Holidays alone at a snowbound Lake Tahoe house she inherited from her late mother – avoiding her gently smothering married-with-kids sister and coping with the latest rejection of her supernatural romance novel Touched by a Vampire.  An injured bat bangs against her windows and, after looking up bat-care on the internet, she brings it indoors and patches it up … only it transforms into naked, fanged, wounded vampire Luke (Nico Bellamy).  A passing vampire hunter (Vernon Wells) warns her that vampires aren’t dreamy and romantic but murderous and cunning, but she cares for Luke – dreaming of being delicately nipped and asking for pointers on her book, which he is eventually willing to give.  Meanwhile, Luke’s pack – Jackie (Laura Kennon) and Brock (Alan Silva) – are looking for him.

Writer-director Sean Nichols Lynch’s feature makes great use of a limited setting and a small cast.  It has a lot of high-quality conversation – Cisneros (a real find as an unusual leading lady) and Bellamy are excellent in scenes that are sweetly comic hut have an underlying menace as human and vampire both try to bleed the other (not just literally) and even an outright monster shows a whimsical side (there’s a priceless running joke about ‘candy elves’).  For much of the film, Luke weirdly has to wear little old lady clothes that belonged to Olivia’s dead mother – which undercuts how menacing he might be, though he still has a lizardy white-eyed hissing side.

There have been vampire/human two-person pieces before (Katt Shea Ruben’s Dance of the Damned is suprisingly influential) but this uses those precedents to conceal some plot surprises.  Is Luke faking sensitivity to play up to Olivia’s fantasies?  And does the writer have a spark of ruthlessness that monsters underestimate at their peril?  It’s to Lynch’s credit that the answers aren’t cut-and-dried.  He also stages some excellent gory horrors – one head-wrenching is impressive – and a couple of clever suspense sequences, one of which involves walking through a room littered with fragile Christmas baubles without making a noise.

Here’s the FrightFest listing.


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