FrightFest Review: Red Snow

Director: Sean Nichols Lynch. 
With: Dennice Cisneros, Nico Bellamy, Laura Kennon, Alan Silva, Vernon Wells. 
USA 2021. 80 mins.

Pardon the pun, but I am a sucker for a vampire film. There is something so eternally interesting about these creatures of the undead, especially how their representation in media has changed over the years. From Bela Lugosi’s Dracula hypnotising his victims with his double-jointed fingers, to Christopher Lee in his long cape, to the decadence of Neil Jordan’s interpretation of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire; the beautiful love story between two vampires in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, to love affairs and vampires and mortals in BuffyTwilight, and True Blood, to the hilarity of What We Do In The Shadow (both the film and the superior television series), the undead are constantly being reinterpreted, reinvented, and revaluated. Public consumption for vampires is hardly on the wane, but where do creators go when so many avenues have been explored so effectively?

Fortunately, Red Snow does this very thing; it offers a new interpretation of the vampire and human dynamic and skews the notion of the brooding vampire skulking away in his Romanian castle. Olivia (Dennice Cisneros) is a vampire obsessed struggling novelist holed up in her isolated Lake Tahoe cabin at Christmas with her fang-adorned. Her long-harboured vampire connection comes true when she takes in an injured back who has happened to fly into her window, but who, as luck would have it, turns out to be a vampire called Luke (Nico Bellamy). Soon Olivia and Luke start not so much a love affair but a mentor-student relationship, as Luke offers her advice on making her novel more authentic and dynamic by offering his vamp perspective. Yet, the sexual tension lingers. In Luke, Olivia has found her mentor and her ticket to a successful career. And all appears to be going well until the carnage that subsequently ensues after Luke’s family unexpectedly arrive on the scene to disrupt their unconventional living arrangements, hot-tailed by an organisation called Severon…

Written and directed by award-winner Sean Nichols Lynch, Red Snow’s most potent elements are its biting script, littered with dark satirical humour. Such gems include, ‘vamps aren’t moping around a dusty castle in Eastern Europe,’ as Luke proffers. ‘They go to cool places.’ Then, in an extension of party-hard fun-loving blonde vampires, including Spike from Buffy and Eric from True Blood, he utters what most of us already know about the undead. ‘Being a vampire isn’t sad. It’s awesome. You live forever, every day’s a party, you don’t have to stand in line at the DNV or worry about your f*cking cholesterol.’

The power dynamic between Olivia and Luke is hugely exciting and enjoyable. Utilised and presented through Luke’s costumes (first, his nakedness, and then the novelty shirts that Olivia harbours in her garage), he is practically defanged while in her home. Sure, he could kill her and drain her blood in a heartbeat, but up to a point, she is the one with the greatest control.

While the vampiric energy is solid, certain aspects of Red Snow, including supernatural assassins the Severon organisation, feel a little lacking and not entirely formed. Whether this is due to the eighty-minute run time or time restraints is hard to determine, but this is one area where the film needed a little more meat.

Despite some flaws, Red Snow is a snappy and surprisingly bloody spin on the vampiric love story. While some elements feel a little rushed, the increased pace certainly heightens the energy of the climactic final act. A film for vampire lovers seeking something a little new, Red Snow slowly sinks its fangs into your neck and does not let go until the very end.

FrightFest August 2021 – A Preview

Due to the pandemic and various other factors, I won’t be attending FrightFright in person this year. However, instead, I am reviewing a few things remotely for Hero Collector (which will be posted subsequently), and a couple of things here. I’ll also be posting a couple of reviews following FF’s Digital Strand in a couple of weeks time. In the meantime, here is a small snapshot of things to watch out for/coverage so far. Hopefully a few titles will pique your interest. I will try to add as I go along and reviews will be posted on a separate page. Have a great FrightFest!


Director: Neill Blomkamp. 
With: Carly Pope, Chris William Martin, Nathalie Boltt, Michael J. Rogers, Andrea Agur. 
Canada 2021.117 mins 

Writer and director Neill Blomkamp returns after six years with a work on possession, personal demons, and simulation. Review forthcoming.

THURSDAY 26TH AUGUST 2021- 6.00 & 6.25 PM

The Brilliant Terror

Directors: Paul Hunt and Julie Kauffman. 
With: ​ Mike Lombardo, Jeremiah Kipp, Ashley Thorpe, Heidi Honeycutt, Julie O’Connor Ufema.
USA 2021. 78 mins. 

An interesting and warts-and-all documentary about grass roots horror filmmakers, their methods and their lives. Very human and without fanfare, it’s nice to have such an intimate, close up look at filmmakers and their craft, and what makes them tick. Interviewees include Heidi Honeycutt of Los Angeles’ Etheria Film Festival. An illuminating watch.


Red Snow

Director: Sean Nichols Lynch. 
With: Dennice Cisneros, Nico Bellamy, Laura Kennon, Alan Silva, Vernon Wells. 
USA 2021. 80 mins.

A Christmas vampire tale with its tongue firmly in cheek. Review forthcoming.

THURSDAY 26 AUGUST 2021 – 11.10 PM [international Premiere]

Bad Candy

Director: Scott B. Hansen, Desiree Connell. 
With: Corey Taylor, Zach Galligan, Derek Russo, Ryan Kiser, Alexandra Lucchesi. 
USA 2020. 100 mins.

I’m a sucker for a horror anthology, and this one really hits the mark. It’s gory, the music bangs, Zach Galligan from Gremlins and Corey Taylor from Slipknot are late night radio DJs Paul and Chilly Billy overseeing local tales where the line between local myth and reality becomes increasingly blurred and increasingly grim. It’s fun, it’s frightening, it looks great. Watch this one, because it rules!

FRIDAY 27TH AUGUST 2021 – 1.20 PM

Laguna Ave

Director: David Buchanan. 
With: Dan Crane, Stephanie Brait, Jeff Hilliard, James Markham Hall Jr., Russell Steinberg, Sheridan Ward. 
USA 2021. 80 mins.

Think of John Waters meets technology in this surreal tale of paranoia and Artificial Intelligence in Los Angeles. It’s strange, it’s funny, it’s filled with WTF moments. One for lovers of the bizarre who want their horror with a side of the darkest humour.

FRIDAY 27TH AUGUST 2021 – 11.10 PM

No Man of God

Director: Amber Sealey. 
With: Elijah Wood, Robert Patrick, Luke Kirby, Aleksa Palladino, Christian Clemenson. 
USA 2021. 100 mins.   

Elijah Wood is the FBI analyst Ted Hagmaier who volunteers interview Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) in the early days of FBI Profiling. My review of this one is forthcoming but if you like Mindhunter and True Crime, do not miss this one.

SUNDAY 29TH AUGUST 2021 – 8.50 & 9.10 PM [European Premiere]

Mystery Spot

Director: Mel House. 
With: Graham Skipper, Lisa Wilcox, Debbie Rochon, Julie Osterman, Seán Patrick Judge. 
USA 2020. 111 mins.

An interesting take on grief, isolation, and connection. Review forthcoming.

MONDAY 30TH AUGUST 2021 – 6.15 PM

The Retaliators

Directors: Samuel Gonzalez Jr. 
Bridget Smith. With: Michael Lombardi, Marc Menchaca, Joseph Gatt, Katie Kelly, Abbey Hafer.
USA 2021. 97 mins.   

A rock n’ roll horror with appearances and music by and from Tommy Lee from Mötley Crüe and the acting debut of Papa Roach singer Jacob Shaddix, The Retaliators is a revenge thriller that’s big on gore and heavy on music. The OTT gore will ensure this one secures crowd pleaser status, while the peppered humour and throwbacks to classic horror fare will make this fun to watch with a crowd.

MONDAY 30TH AUGUST 2021- 10.45 & 11.10 AM