Red Snow

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Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Red Snow
"As sweet-natured as it is bloody, Red Snow is anchored by an ebullient performance from Cisneros, who is in almost every scene yet never seems to flag." | Photo: Courtesy of FrightFest

Stating one’s occupation as ‘writer’ is a tricky thing. It tends to be met with incredulity, and one has to explain, “No, I actually make my living this way. This is how I eat,” before anybody takes it seriously. That’s because the vast majority of people who describe themselves that way are not professional writers but enthusiastic amateurs – and whilst there’s nothing wrong with having a hobby, or with creating niche literature which lacks market potential, there’s something faintly worrying about how many of those people have written vampire books in which otherworldly antiheroes fall head over heels in love with thoroughly mediocre mortals.

Barely one in a million of those writers will make it to print, yet most entertain dreams of having the next bestseller. Olivia (Dennice Cisneros) fits the type perfectly except for two things: there are reserves of character within her which she just doesn’t know about yet, and her vampire fantasy is about to be shattered by an encounter with the real thing.

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Say you’re living in an isolated cabin in the woods and one night an injured bat crashes into your front door. What do you do? As a horror film viewer, you might be wary, but the bat is very cute and Olivia is an inherently nice person. She takes it inside, puts a plaster on its wound and makes it comfortable in a cardboard box in her garage. When, the next day, she finds a naked man there instead, she not only takes it in her stride but bounces like someone who has just won the lottery. This is her vampire and his secrets, she’s sure, will make her a success. She clearly also has other things on her mind but she’s not stupid, and takes measure to protect herself, not altogether impressed by the speed with which he starts trying to order her around. He’s going to have to work to win her trust.

Needless to say, things don’t go quite as she had imagined in this surprisingly cheery but still wilfully gruesome comedy from Prep School director Sean Nichols Lynch. Luke (Nico Bellamy) may look the part of the pointy-toothed romantic hero but his story is a complicated one, and his friends have no sympathy for mortals at all. Matters are further complicated by a ‘sort of private detective’ with a habit of carrying pointy sticks on his person and by Olivia’s determination that no matter what else is happening she is going to have a proper Christmas.

As sweet-natured as it is bloody, Red Snow, which screened at 2021's Frightfest, is anchored by an ebullient performance from Cisneros, who is in almost every scene yet never seems to flag. She gives Olivia an inherent nerdiness which makes her delusions endearing rather than vain, and there’s enough chemistry between her and Bellamy to make us wonder if something actually might happen between them, yet viewers need not worry that this is just another take on the same old fantasy. Olivia gets a lot more room for character development and Lynch, clearly alert to the troubling gender politics of genre favourites, isn’t about to let Luke get everything his way. The result is a film which, whilst modest in its ambitions, delivers well. It’s unlikely to enjoy the success of indulgent fantasies like Twilight, but it’s smart, funny and a solid piece of entertainment.

Reviewed on: 27 Aug 2021
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A struggling vampire romance novelist must defend herself against real-life vampires during Christmas in Lake Tahoe.

Director: Sean Nichols Lynch

Writer: Sean Nichols Lynch

Starring: Dennice Cisneros, Nico Bellamy, Laura Kennon, Vernon Wells

Year: 2021

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:

Frightfest 2021

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