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Snow Valley (2024) Review

Filmed in 2021, Snow Valley was the first, and last, film directed by the late Brandon Murphy, who died while it was in post-production. Brandon had previously co-written The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, which mixed crime and comedy to great success. This film, however, plays things seriously, mixing an uninvited guest and the supernatural in a tale of a couple’s engagement celebration gone very wrong.

Heath Johnson (Cooper van Grootel, Outsiders, One Of Us is Lying) and his fiancé Laura (Rachel Michiko Whitney, The Card counter, Deadly Matrimony)are spending the weekend at his parent’s ski lodge, a sixteen bedroom luxury resort with its own run and lift, and they have it all to themselves.

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Or maybe not quite all to themselves as Ellen (Barbara Crampton, We Are Still Here, Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls) shows up claiming saying she works for the Johnson and lives in the building, something that Heath forgot to mention. That’s about the only surprise the film’s first half hour delivers, however, the rest being taken up by horribly cutesy romantic dialogue and ski footage.

It’s not until Laura recognizes the similarity between a couple of the town’s workers and long dead miners in a photo on the wall that anything remotely creepy happens. Or maybe she didn’t as they don’t seem to be in the picture any more. And that’s quickly pushed aside when Brannon (David Lambert, As Certain as Death, Aaron Stone) and his girlfriend Anna (Paige Elkington, Mono, Funeral Rehearsal) arrive to help celebrate.

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If this sounds less than exciting, you’re right. Snow Valley forces us to spend time with some exceptionally obnoxious characters, with little to distract you from how annoying they are. The arrival of the uninvited Ed (Tom Williamson, Run Hide Fight, All Cheerleaders Die) whom even they think is obnoxious, doesn’t help matters. By the time he starts waving a gun around and talking about the 2nd amendment, I fully understood why Anna was ready to ski to the nearest hotel to get away from him.

Murphy seems to think we’ll find these characters and their inane banter and bickering so fascinating, that’s all we get for most of Snow Valley’s running time. We’re forty-five minutes into its seventy-five minutes before we find out about the tragedy connected to the lodge, one whose anniversary is that very night. And then we get more drama about what a psycho Ed is and Heath losing his shit on the phone to an injured snowboarder.

At fifty minutes in, we finally see a ghost, and the plot pivots to someone being found in bed with someone else’s girlfriend. It’s as if Murphy was told having a horror element was a condition of getting the film financed, and he was putting as little of it in the film as possible. The ten or so minutes that might pass as horror are actually so ludicrous I laughed loud enough to wake Mandy up.

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There is literally no reason to subject yourself to Snow Valley. The characters, with one exception, are extremely unlikable and almost nothing happens to justify the thriller and horror tags the makers gave the film. No scares, no effects, nothing. It’s hard to imagine that someone with a writer’s credit on a successful film could come up with as big a misfire as Snow Valley, but that’s exactly what this is. It feels like it was written by somebody with no concept of character, plot or pacing.

And anyone who might watch to see Barbra Crampton will be disappointed as well, as she makes a brief appearance at the film’s start and then shows up in the last few minutes to give a performance that’s on a level with everything else in this disaster.

Snow Valley is available on VOD and Digital Platforms via Gravitas Ventures. You’ll be better off watching their other new release, Easter Bloody Easter, though, at least it’s intentionally ridiculous.

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