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.