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FrightFest 2021: Red Snow Is a Fresh Take On Vampires and Love

Red Snow, not to be confused with Dead Snow, is the latest comedy/horror from writer/director Sean Nichols Lynch, and oh boy was I not expecting to like this film as much as I did. The vampire subgenre is one of my least favorite, and I’m not a super Christmas-y person, so a Christmas vampire movie (for me) didn’t seem like it would be subjectively enjoyable. Damn, was I wrong. Lynch’s script was tight, funny, bloody, and fairly wholesome (for the most part).

Our story involves a struggling writer, Olivia Romo (Dennice Cisneros), who is obsessed with vampires. Her Christmas tree is adorned with plastic vampire teeth, her laptop has a large Count Orlok sticker on it, and her coffee table book is titled 100 Viscous Little Vampire Stories, so you can say she has a slight obsession. Her manuscript, Touched by a Vampire, has been rejected for the nth time, and as a screenwriter who has received many rejections, the generic response she received was disheartening.

She lives a claustrophobic and repetitive life, making microwave meals every day at the same time, receiving rejection after rejection daily, and stuck inside her deceased mother’s winter home. Cisneros does an excellent job of portraying someone who is closed off from the world but longs to find her place in it. She is a family person who strives for that communal connection but seems to just be very depressed that her writing career isn’t where she hoped it would be (oof, that one hit too close to home), that is, until the day she met Luke (Nico Bellamy).

Luke, in bat form, is attacked by Julius King (Vernon Wells) and smashes into Olivia’s window. She decides to nurse the bat back to health by giving it water and setting it in her garage. Come morning time, that bat is a full blown hot man vamp. Olivia is fairly chill about this whole situation and decides to use it towards her advantage, ’cause hey, they say write about what you know, so how can you write about vampires if you don’t know one?

Olivia hides from Brock as she lures him out of the house before trying to kill him

The relationship that Olivia and Luke form is quite sweet, which leads me to ponder, can vampires celebrate Christmas? Since vampires are hurt by crosses and holy water, can they celebrate a holiday based around Christ? This odd question did not take away from the film, but it was just a thought that has stayed in the back of my mind.

Throughout the film, Luke is being tracked down by two different groups: the Severon group, and Luke’s two vampire cohorts Jackie (Laura Kennon) and Brock (Alan Silva). The Severon group is a sort of monster hunting agency that Julius works for. Luke tries to persuade Oliva that the group is evil, stating they wiped out Unicorns, Shape Shifters, and Candy Elves, which Luke says, “[are] as cool as they sound.”

Red Snow is chock full of tons of great vampire references, even ones this non-vamp fan reviewer was able to pick up on. Luke has many hysterical lines, such as one where he refers to Nosferatu as, “[our] Birth of a Nation.” The relationship between Olivia and Luke evolves into quite the wholesome relationship, with her getting pigs’ blood for him while he rehabilitates himself. In return, he helps her with her manuscript.

Luke burns from the sun during his first encounter with Oliva after she saves his life

Lynch and cinematographer Gavin V. Murray create a claustrophobic environment, including one of the best uses of a Dutch angle I have seen in quite some time. Stylistically, this film is very straightforward, but there is no denying that it looks good. The kill scenes were also filmed very well with some wonderful practical effects, and thankfully, buckets of blood.

A good composition or score is one of the big factors of creating proper atmosphere in any film, no matter the genre. The score for Red Snow completely caught me off guard and left me grinning from ear to ear. The bulk of the score is Christmas music but not how you’d expect. Our—well, people who enjoy the holiday’s favorite Christmas classics are twisted ever so slightly and made to be cacophonous and discordant nightmares. It was truly a delight to hear the nightmare remixes of the classics.

For the most part the entire cast does an excellent job, with a standout performance from Vernon Wells. His portrayal of Julius is simultaneously sinister and sweet. We’re left to our own interpretation of whether or not he is helping the greater good with his work with the Severon organization, but he plays the role so well that your mind isn’t made up until pertinent information is exposited towards the end of the film. Also, Luke is no Lestat, but he does a good job of being a sexy mysterious being with questionable intent.

Jackie looks on in awe as Luke reverts back to his old human killing ways

Even though I am not a Christmasy person, I do like to binge Christmas horror movies during the holidays. Well, Red Snow is going to be going on that binge list of films like Black Christmas (’74), Krampus, and Better Watch Out. It’s fresh, weird, funny, sexy, scary, and all around pretty bad*ss…especially for a vampire movie. It really adds something new to the subgenre.

It will be interesting to see what Sean Nichols Lynch does from here. With the hope that this film gets the notoriety that it deserves, I’m very interested to see what horrors he can bring to life with an even larger budget. If you’re a fan of vampire films, I think this is a good one to throw on your list. It would most likely be a standout film, but even if you’re not a fan of vampire films, I highly recommend checking it out. Red Snow makes fun of and pays homage to the films and tropes that it builds itself on, and in the end, we are all the better for it.

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Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

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