I love this title; it nicely sets up the tone of the film as a disaster flick that’s not gonna take itself too seriously. Putting the execution of their Saturday Night Originals aside, SyFy has been doing a really nice job, lately, of choosing films with interesting plots. SNOWMAGEDDON, premiering on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 9pm, is kicking off the SyFy holiday season and where it may not have an actual “holiday theme,” it does have a nice seasonal feel to it. But as with all SyFy Original, it all comes down to execution.
SNOWMAGEDDON builds up a plot based on the very simple idea of a mystical snow globe that causes destruction in the real world when it’s shaken up. That’s it. Period. The film opens with a mysterious stranger dropping off a Christmas present to the Miller family. The dad (David Cubitt) is the town’s sheriff (the town’s name is “Normal”) and the mother is a helicopter pilot who is hired by “the world’s greatest snow boarder,” Derrick (Jeffrey Ballard) and his buddy to fly them to the town’s highest peak to get some new video footage of Derrick doing his thang. The Miller’s youngest son, Rudy (Dylan Matzke) is drawn to the snow globe and he notices right away that the inside of the globe is an exact replica of Normal’s main street. That night (Xmas Eve) when he shakes the globe, the town is hit with an earthquake and the cracked, split open ground is mirrored in the snow globe. Rudy sees this immediately and tries to tell his dad, but of course who’s gonna listen to the imagination of a young boy?
The Miller’s teenage daughter Stephanie (Magda Apanowicz) accompanies her mom to take Derrick to the top of the mountain and after they drop him off, Rudy shakes the snow globe again and causes a brutal hail storm to rain down, crashing the helicopter and injuring/stranding the snow boarders on the mountain. Now the dad is in a race to save his family and the towns people as well as figure out what the hell is going on. The basic structure of SNOWMAGEDDON works. We get a nice, likable family on Xmas Eve who suddenly find themselves physically split apart with catastrophic weather threatening to destroy the entire town and everyone in it. The cast is all very competent here and the acting is strong. I’m noticing that SyFy is starting to use established actors in their Saturday Night Originals. Here we have Michael Hogan (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), David Cubitt (MEDIUM), and Magda Apanowicz (CAPRICA). So the acting, for a change, isn’t painful to watch. I also like the mysterious, supernatural cause of all the destruction (more on this in a minute).
Some of the various weather disasters we get from the snow globe being shaken up is the above-mentioned earthquake and huge hail storm, avalanches, and other such snow-related disasters. And the f/x? Well I can’t really speak about the f/x on SNOWMAGEDDON. I received a very early screener that barely had any of the f/x completed. In scenes that had special f/x, there was just a black screen for the duration of how long the f/x lasted. I got to see a few f/x, but I’d say that 90% of them weren’t completed on the screener I received. So in all fairness, I won’t say anything about them and will be looking forward to watching the film again to actually see how they turned out. Hell; that should say something right there. I’m going to watch SNOWMAGEDDON a second time just to see the f/x!!
The main negative thing I can say about SNOWMAGEDDON is that it felt a little rushed. The mysterious figure who dropped off the snow globe to the Miller residence in the beginning is never brought up again, and the snow globe itself is never even attempted to be explained. We have no idea how it came into existence, why it was created, and why it was specifically dropped off at the Miller’s house. There’s also an interesting element in the film that is brought up and very quickly ignored. After the earthquake hit, one of the characters attempts to call the next town over to get some assistance. He can’t get anyone on the line and mentions that “it’s almost like we’re cut off from the rest of the world” (or something to that effect). This could’ve been an interesting element in the film but its never examined.
Somehow the cast figures out that they need to throw the snow globe into a volcano (yeah, seriously) and so pappa Miller sets off on his very own LORD OF THE RINGS journey to “end this.” Besides the entire film feeling a bit like a rush job to meet a deadline and get this film out in time, the ending has the feel that we’re gonna be revisiting this snow globe in the future. The way things were left at the end of SNOWMAGEDDON (no explanations for anything) easily sets up a sequel. Director Sheldon Wilson (who also directed the other SyFy Originals CARNY, MOTHMAN, RED: WEREWOLF HUNTER, KILLER MOUNTAIN, and the upcoming MEGA CYCLONE) keeps everything moving along at a nice pace and never takes the material too seriously.
SNOWMAGEDDON won’t become traditional holiday viewing in your home in future years, but it’s a fun, holiday-linked destruction flick that will be really fun with some eggnog. Check this one out.
Director: Sheldon Wilson
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer