‘Let It Snow’ Review: Ho Ho Ho-Hum Holiday Horror
By Daniel Rester
Let It Snow is a Ukrainian horror film from first-time feature director Stanislav Kapralov. His picture is small-scale in terms of plot and characters, but it takes place on huge, snowy landscapes in Georgia (the country, not state). While I could take pleasure in the scenery all day, Let It Snow doesn’t have much else to offer.
A couple, Mia (Ivanna Sakhno) and Max (Alex Hafner), decide to take a Christmas vacation to Georgia for some snowboarding. Max is adamant about going to a particular ridge despite foreboding dialogue from a receptionist and helicopter pilot. They end up at the ridge and it doesn’t take long for things to go wrong as the couple are hunted down by a person in black gear on a snowmobile.
Kapralov doesn’t waste much time getting to Max and Mia being prey in Let It Snow, but once that starts the film doesn’t seem to know where to go before arriving at its finish. Max plays with the idea of proposing to Mia in the beginning of the film, and then we are repeatedly reminded of that throughout the film. It’s meant to make us care about the couple more, but it comes off flat. Max is also an annoying American stereotype who says things like “leave me the deets” on his voicemail, so I wanted him to bite it early on.
This is a film with an identity crisis. Kapralov doesn’t know if he wants a holiday slasher, a romantic thriller, or a survival drama à la The Revenant (2015). The dialogue is often obvious but delivered unnaturally. The thrills are thin as we spend most of the time following Mia as she walks around on the mountains. It’s pretty boring, though pretty to look at. Kapralov even tries to jolt us awake at one point with a dumb jump scare from a chicken.
Sakhno is fine in the lead despite us learning little about Mia except for the fact that she eventually wants kids. Some of the music is also effectively eerie. And as mentioned before, there’s some beautiful visuals. One particular scene involving roses is especially impressive as the red flowers pop in the snow.
The villain needed to be used more in Let It Snow. After triggering an avalanche in a cool scene, the character disappears for long periods of time. This deflates the tension of Mia getting hunted. Instead the protagonist just stumbles around and looks tired as she hopes to find aid.
Let It Snow isn’t abysmal thanks to its scenery and Sakhno’s strong performance, but it is pretty uneventful and bland. Snowboarding thrillers can actually be good. See Frozen from 2010 for an example. This one just doesn’t know where to go.
My Grade: 4.5/10 (letter grade equivalent: C-)
Running Time: 1h 26min