Sean Nichols Lynch brings us Red Snow, a genre bending vampire film that crumples the conventions of the genre through purposeful deception and dismantling everything you thought you knew about vampires.
Taking us on the journey is Olivia Romo (Dennice Cisneros), a struggling vampire romance novelist who is all alone on Christmas at her family’s cozy cabin by Lake Tahoe. Her loneliness at the supposed ‘happiest time of the year’ takes a hopeful turn as she finds herself in the company of Luke (Nico Bellamy), a real life vampire. Although her dreams have come true she must now battle with mistrust and the looming consequences…
Although it would be easy for Red Snow to develop into another archetypal holiday romance, accompanied by immortals, Lynch disavows any soppiness in favour of pushing a rich and introspective narrative that only furthers the incredibly dimensional characters. Olivia and Luke are rounded, their bond as ostracised people is inexplicably computed as their chemistry burns bright throughout. The pair’s kinship is warming without overshadowing their own individual personalities as their sole personas propel a certain air of charm that forces the viewer into a sympathetic position.
That’s not to say that sentiment dominates, as Luke and the rest of the vampire coven are undeniably capable of creating unease. The vampires that exist within the world of Red Snow are vicious, unnerving, and spine-tingling, but what truly furthers their ruthlessness is an apt humanness that Lynch bravely anchors onto.
A key plot motivation is how Olivia’s failing book relies too much on vampire tropes, and with Luke’s assistance she uncovers that these creatures can identify with the excitements and trials just as much as mundane humans can. And it’s this relatability where the film’s horror stems from- they know that their savageness is wrong but they persist in continuing their frightening lifestyle. It’s this precise reason as to why Red Snow lingers with me, the budding bond between Luke and Olivia is admirable, but Lynch toys with what we know and expect to see in a vampire film, diminishing any predictability.
Ensuring that Red Snow evokes an emotive response are the performances by both Bellamy and Cisneros who beyond a shadow of doubt create an immersive experience. Olivia isn’t drawn as a vampire-fangirl dreaming of someone sweeping her off her feet, instead she’s not unfamiliar to insecurities and is grounded in reality. Similarly to Luke, although he is presented with that classic bad boy charm, his sensitivity gradually comes to light. Lynch boldly bares the heart of the film whilst not slumping the threat.
Red Snow challenges what we know as the distinctive vampire chronicle, however, it still uses some genre highlights but in a more innovative form. Fairly on we are introduced to Julius King (Vernon Wells), an infamous vampire hunter part of a much larger group known as The Severon Group. Wells has already cemented his reputation within cinema through his roles in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and Weird Science (1985), which highlights his dramatic knack for eccentricity, with Red Snow being no exception to his flair as the role of Julius King is what drops the tension in the first place and makes us second guess Luke’s true intentions.
The fleshed out story is not the only factor worthy of praise as the marriage between the setting and the overall aesthetic harmonises together to form a visual banquet. Olivia’s fondness for the macabre at Christmas time did make me chuckle, joining the shining baubles on the tree is vampire fang decorations and instead of wearing snowman holiday jumpers she dons Nosferatu T-shirts, a girl after my own heart. Red Snow completely took me by surprise every step of the way, cementing itself as a solid entry into both vampire and holiday horror.
You can check out Red Snow on Saturday 25th September 2021 at this years fest, tickets and details here.