07th Oct2011

‘Snow Beast’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: John Schneider, Jason London, Danielle Chuchran, Paul D. Hunt, Kari Hawker | Written by Brittany Wiscombe | Directed by Brian Brough

Snow-Beast-header

Snow Beast, shot in 2011, and not to be confused with the 1977 TV movie Snowbeast which starred Bo Svenson and Yvette Mimieux, and is set in the same locale (a snowy hillside) and featuring almost exactly the same plot, stars Smallville‘s John Schneider as wildlife researcher Jim who, along with his team head up to the mountains every year to study the Canadian Lynx. Only this year things are a little different – for one Jim has to take his rebelling 16 year-old daughter, Emmy (Chuchran), with him and two, all the lynx are missing. As Jim and his team, along with a local forest ranger played by a sweaty-looking Jason London, try to find out why, something stalks them, a predator, a hunter, a Snowbeast! (and yes I am trying to make this flick sound more exciting than it actually is).

Brian Brough and his writing/producing partner Brittany Wiscombe (who also happens to be his sister) seem to have carved out a career for themselves making quasi-religious (for want of a better word) family movies and now the pair turn their hand to a dirty little horror flick like Snow Beast? Well, yes… and no. This is not your typical horror movie – for starters just take a look at the DVD box art. See that horrific monster? He stars in a 12-rated film. Yep, this film is rated 12. That’s right, a 12. This is the most family-friendly horror movie to grace screens since Gremlins and its sequel.

John Schneider and Jason London both seem to be carving out careers in low-budget monster movies, and the pair have such “classics” on their CV’s as Shark Swarm, Super Shark, Ogre (which is one film I really want to see if I’m honest), Showdown at Area 51 and Monsterwolf, so it should come as no surprise to seem them appear in yet another straight-to-DVD monster flick. What is surprising, at least to me, is that this film doesn’t seem to have been made for Syfy. But then again, if it was a Syfy movie the monster would be CGI wouldn’t it? After all, every other monster in a movie on that channel is. But I think a CG animated monster would detract from the appeal of Snow Beast – this is good (well, depending on your tolerance for “so bad they’re good” movies) because its such a throwback to a more innocent age.

Snow Beast is yet another entry in the (small) canon of films that deal with what seems to be America’s fascination with the sasquatch, aka bigfoot. Only this time rather than presenting a new take on the legend, the filmmakers have gone for comedy-gold and recreated what was, and still is, so fantastic about those old sasquatch movies – man in a rubber suit special effects. Apart from looking like it was shot on digital, watching this film feels like the past three decades never happened. Really. The film has a man in a rubber suit as the monster and only three deaths in the entire film (there actually might be more, but I nodded off halfway through), all of which feature zero SFX bar the odd slap of fake blood and a few scratches on the victim – just like the old sasquatch flicks. Everything about Snow Beast screams bargain basement… And that is why it is so fantastic!

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