Red Snow – Review
A struggling vampire romance novelist must defend herself against real-life vampires during Christmas in Lake Tahoe.
It’s the 19th of December and there is less than a week left until Christmas. We still have some movies left to look at. The last 5 days are going to be a blast. For day 19 of our Awful Advent Calendar we are taking a look at another low budget horror. Cheekily giggling at some of the more common vampire tropes. Red Snow is a bit of a different take on the genre.
Set during the Christmas holiday. It sees a novelist who writes vampire romance find an injured bat at her door. Taking it into her garage, it soon transforms into a vampire. Some people have described this as being Misery with vampires. That description couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are checking the movie out for that, don’t. There is no Annie Wilkes here. Just a bit of a lonely woman with the hots for low rent vamps. With that said, let’s take a look.
We’ve been on a bit of an end of the year run of themed features. We had K-O-Ween 31 Days of Halloween in October. We had a Fall Themed Horror movie month for November, Now It’s December and that can mean only one thing. It’s Awful Advent. We are reviewing a new horror for each of the days leading up to Christmas. That’s not all, we will also review a bonus movie for Christmas day itself. 25 horror movies to make your December just that little more frighteningly festive… Or should that be festively frightening? I am not sure, whatever.. It’s going to be scary.
The catch? All of the movies must be set around or feature Christmas. Movies based on a specific Christmas theme are even better. Christmas and horror have always gone hand in hand. There are tons of movies to look at and I expect you can probably predict a few right now. Check back every day of December for something new.
Red Snow – Synopsis
Directed by Sean Nichols Lynch. Red Snow follows the story of novelist Olivia (Dennice Cisneros). Olivia is spending Christmas in her late mum’s cabin. She inherited The Lake Tahoe property in her mother’s will. She plans to stay there while she writes her latest vampire themed romance story. Her days follow a pretty set routine. Get up, have a peppermint Tea, do some chores and begin writing. Unfortunately, her previous drafts have come up short and she is running out of money.
One day, she hears a bang at her door. Going out to see what it is, she spots a bat on the ground. Clearly injured, she goes back inside to research on the internet. Armed with gloves and a box, she heads outside to rescue it. Placing the injured animal in her garage, she goes back inside for the night. The next morning, she hears a bang in her garage. Cautiously entering, Olivia spots a person laying naked on the ground. Not just any person, though. It is a vampire and Olivia’s immediately captivated.
Vampire Themed Horror Laughs
Red Snow is a vampire themed comedy horror. While not leaning into the laughs too heavily. It has its tongue placed firmly in its cheek throughout. It takes a bunch of the usual vampire tropes we have come to know. Garlic, crosses, stakes through the heart, weakness to the sun, and basically has a chuckle at them. There is only really a very slight horror element here. Don’t get me wrong, we do have a fair bit of blood spilled. Despite this, the movie is far more of a comedy drama than anything.
Our heroine, Olivia, is obsessed with vampires. She writes novels about them for a “living”. Olivia even decorates her Christmas tree with vampire teeth. She seems like a bit of a lonely person who yearns for some company. Be it from her family or a handsome, wounded, vampire with a very chiselled jaw. It just so happens that, while reading a book one day, one turns up at her door. Once she manages to get a hold of him, she isn’t overly willing to let him go. I say that but the vampire, Luke, doesn’t particularly want to leave. He feels too weak to face would be pursuers and needs to let his wounds heal.
Focusing on the developing relationship between Olivia and Luke. This is a story of two very different worlds colliding. Olivia has her preconceived ideas of what being a vampire would be like. I mean, she has loved vampires her whole life. How could she not? Luke aims to correct her on a few of these. While he is at it, he also wants to help her with the draft of her most recent book. The big question is, can she trust him? He is a vampire, after all.
Misery With Vampires?
Some have described this movie as Misery with vampires. Being entirely honest, Red Snow is absolutely nothing like Misery. Olivia is a kind person. She is fascinated by Luke and wants to learn more about him. She doesn’t want to force him to stay. I doubt she could if she wanted to. There are none of the elements found in Misery here. Luke is a very willing guest and there is a complete lack of slow burning, psychological horror. In fact, when the horror element actually comes on. It is far more of the action packed variety.
Luke is being pursued by a group of vampire hunters and, also, by a pair of his former friends. When they finally work out where he is, the movie devolves into basic action horror. By this point, however, we are over 50 minutes in and the film is nearly done. It is very much lacking in the thick sense of tension present in movies like Misery. There is no atmosphere at all to speak of and it simply doesn’t feel very much like a horror movie.
If you go into Red Snow expecting a woman to be violently breaking a vampire’s ankles. Drugging him to keep him calm and holding him captive. You will be very sorely disappointed. This movie is far more of a Hallmark Christmas comedy romance. It just happens to feature toothy fiends. That’s not to say it is bad, it just doesn’t feel much like a horror movie. The 20 minutes or so that it devotes to being a horror are okay. They feel very tacked on and secondary to the comedy drama aspect, though. The lack of scares and tension almost make this feel like a horror adjacent.
Lacking Character Development
Naturally, Red Snow is a very character focused movie. We have Luke and Olivia who take up almost all of the screen time. Julius the vampire hunter shows up but doesn’t feature much. He is really more of an accessory. He furthers the relationship between the two main characters and that is it. A few extra vampires introduced later on feel, ultimately, unimportant. As for Olivia and Luke, the pair feel as though they are lacking a little in development. The chemistry between the two really isn’t there, either.
Olivia is a facsimile of your typical, down on their luck, romance novelist. She even looks how you would expect this type of character to look. Living in her deceased mother’s cabin, she is attempting to write for a living. A stranger to success, numerous publishers have already rejected her. The fact that she is sitting in what looks like a $500,000 house doesn’t make it easy to lend much sympathy to her. Still, she is what you would expect from this character type. Beyond those tropes, Olivia lacks in development and is a little bit boring.
Luke is something of a low rent Edward Cullen. I haven’t watched or read Twilight and I never will but everyone knows Edward. He is every young girl’s fantasy. A potentially deadly creature that only the right person can tame. Luke comes across very much like that. Some of the laughing at the typical vampire tropes seem a little bit like spitting into the wind. You know, considering Luke looks like an Edward Cullen cosplay. It’s only Bellamy’s somewhat diminutive stature. Plus the fact that he is clearly older, that separates him. Still, he is, again, underdeveloped. Luke completely fits the modern vampire mould. There were no chances taken here and the result is two fairly boring characters.
An Average Script
Luckily, the movie does offer a few laughs. Not that it will have you rolling on the floor or anything. It does raise a few smiles, though. Some of the dialogue is quite amusing and Luke dressed in Olivia’s mum’s clothes is a hilarious visual. Olivia is a bit of a goofy character and that can make you laugh here and there. Unfortunately, however, the script doesn’t really ever reach the potential of the scenario. Scenes discussing Olivia’s manifesto are amusing. Some of the pair’s back and forth regarding vampire tropes are quite fun, as well. There is just a whole lot of meat left on the bone, though.
Lynch never really feels as though he gets deep into Luke’s experience of being a vampire. He spends most of his time shooting down some of the tropes without introducing anything new. Olivia never asks questions that people would really want to know the answers to. There is no in depth probing and, as a result, Luke’s character never feels fleshed out. Similarly, the vampires that appear later on have no backstory. There is no reason given for them to act the way they are acting. We barely even know the relationship between them and Luke. So much is left unanswered and it cheapens the story. The framework for something really interesting is here. It is just fairly barebones.
Cinematography is absolutely fine. It’s not going to necessarily stick with you as a great example. This is a low budget movie, though, and it doesn’t look like one. For that it definitely deserves praise. Camera work is decent, scenes are set up nicely and there are some fun shots here and there. I enjoyed a fridge eye’s view of Olivia as she places stuff inside, for example.
Some of the more comedic shots suffer for an overeager need to dwell on the subject. The camera can linger a little too long leading the comedy to wane a bit. Luke also occasionally wanders around in front of the camera in a way that I found a little distracting. Despite these little niggles, it is generally really good. Practical effects are decent as well. There is plenty of blood and it always looks very convincing.
Acting is generally really good. Dennice Cisneros, as Olivia, does a lot with a little. Olivia is an underdeveloped character but Cisneros makes her work. She is likeable and her facial expressions will garner a few laughs. I like that she is not completely static when talking, as well. This is something you see inexperienced actors do a lot. Cisneros actually uses her hands to express herself and has a good sense of physical comedy.
Nico Bellamy, as Luke, is a little more uneven. He can be a bit stiff and seems somewhat uncomfortable playing the cool, aloof vampire. His delivery can feel unnatural at times. Despite this he warms up as the movie goes on. He isn’t afraid to laugh at himself which is always good. Judging by his IMDB page he is very inexperienced so its hard not to praise him for how well he did. Especially when you consider said lack of experience.
Vernon Wells is fun as Julius King. He definitely has a good time playing the experienced vampire hunter. Laura Kennon seems to enjoy terrorising people as lead vampire lady Jackie, as well. Some people might consider her to be overacting a bit. I thought she was pretty decent, though. All in all, the cast does a nice job.
A Fun Chick Horror?
Is it offensive to refer to this movie as a chick horror? I am not sure? I mean no offense by it. Anyone can enjoy a movie like this. With that being said. It is hard to imagine a better audience than a group of girls. It has a handsome protagonist, a light romance element and a likeable lead. The horror takes something of a back seat so it works for non-horror fans. The humour here feels very much like that of romcoms, as well. I am not saying there is nothing for “manly men” to take from this movie. I just think they are perhaps not the target audience.
It is very cool to see more horror movies aimed at a female audience. I could imagine women watching this with their friends and having a great time. As far as horror targeted at women goes, it is a lot better than Sophia Takal’s Black Christmas. Still, it has to be said, Red Snow can feel a bit lacking. As a horror movie, it doesn’t really do much. As a comedy, it is a little light on the laughs. Characters are underdeveloped and the plot is paper thin. Misery with vampires it most definitely is not. For an easily digestible comedy horror with likeable characters and a few laughs, though. It definitely does it’s job. Just don’t expect too much.
Is it a Knockout?
Following the story of a romance novelist obsessed with vampires who finds an injured vampire in her garage. Red Snow is a fairly easy going comedy horror. Leaning far more into drama and laughs than gore and kills. This is a great option for someone looking to giggle a little and not have to think too much. Decent pacing and some committed performances help keep you engaged. Characters, however, feel underdeveloped and lack chemistry. A distinct lack of horror elements and an ending that feels tacked on are disappointing. This is still worth a watch, though, and can be quite a lot of fun.