Written and directed by Brian Lockyer, Shawn (Michael Masurkevitch) and Manny (Mandip Brar) are spending the weekend at Shawn’s family cabin. However, as the past and present begin to overlap, Shawn descends into horrific madness. Also starring: Jack Leslie Hunter, Clara Lockyer, Michael Masurkevitch, Jill Peterson, Kevin Reitzel and John Settle.
Considering the extreme effects that freezing temperatures can have on the body and mind, it’s a surprise that more horror flicks haven’t capitalised on it. Typically films will use cold in regard to survival rather than madness, so it’s an interesting change of pace to see the descent to insanity in Snow Blinded. One of the first things to get out of the way is discussing the opening, over the top warning which feels like a misstep. Anyone who’s seen their fair share of graphic horror will have seen more disturbing things than this film has to offer. That choice also sets a tone which only matches the film in its final moments, so it too quickly creates anticipation for something that viewers will have to wait well over an hour to find. As well as the fact that its initial slower, gradual progression is actually very strong and it’s cheapening that by presenting the graphic content as its leading attribute.
That’s the key strength here, the psychosis in a trippy, dreamlike, panicked and confused state. The spiral that it creates with the character’s mental state works really well. Then when it first introduces its horror element in tandem with that spiral, they make for a perfect pair. As the more overt, risky uses of gore and nudity take over, that strengths wear off because the film steps away from the psychology into shock tactics. You can see what the filmmakers were going for and there is a great attempt at some physical effects work but it’s not a natural transition. It ramps things up too fast and while that does make sense to the story on paper, it hasn’t built the foundation to truly make that drastic change of tone land. The earlier style has more in common with giallo while the latter moments are akin to torture porn and slasher violence, the two can work together but it’s a difficult balance to strike.
One of the reasons those earlier scenes work so well is the friendship built between Shawn (Michael Masurkevitch) and Manny (Mandip Brar). It has an easy-going, banter style nature that is classically masculine but not filled with over-competitiveness or arrogance. It’s a key factor given that when the film does begin to spiral, it’s a chaotic exploration of Shawn’s different relationships and experiences so having that solid basis is ideal. Given how outside of the box Snow Blinded veers towards its final moments, that’s where the performances are truly tested and happily, both Masurkevitch and Brar stand up to that intensity.
Snow Blinded has a great concept to use psychosis brought on by freezing temperatures to explore not only madness but to take its protagonist on a messy trip down memory lane. It does become heavy handed in its ending moments, tending to labour on the same point in its use of gore and nudity but the rest of the film creates a captivating horror-thriller mix. The slowly slipping grip on reality and introduction of hallucinations warping Shawn’s perspective are well done. It has a good pace and has a great foundation in the friendship of its leads. Michael Masurkevitch and Mandip Brar give convincing performances, it simply lets itself down by turning to shock tactics and effects, ultimately undermining the suspense and fear that it had created.