Directed by Thomy Kessler
Written by Thomy Kessler
Stars: Martin Kloss, Sandra Quadflieg, Michelle Yao-Hua, Swaantje Becker, Bastian Thumulka, Claudia Reimer, Marie Luise Lux.
Snow Owl Slaughter is most certainly the biggest surprise I have had so far this year in independent horror film. The title may make you think it's a standard slasher movie or even worse; owls getting dispatched left right and centre (!) but let me tell you; this film is a heady, creepy, bizarrely funny trip and I loved every second of it. With shades of The Evil Dead and Twin Peaks but very much with its own original identity, Snow Owl Slaughter will hopefully impress horror fans looking for something scary and fresh.
The plot concerns Andrew and Nina, a couple who have an uncomfortable experience in a Chinese restaurant after being disrepresctful to their waitress. Turns out it's not a good idea to take more than one fortune cookie and Andrew isn't keen to abide by the rules. After this altercation the pair are offered one more fortune cookie from another bowl on their way out and again Andrew proves himself to be an arsehole by taking a handful while Nina takes one with a careless laugh. It is this event that propels the madness and claustrophobia which is to follow.
Andrew is off to an old house in the middle of snowy nowhere with a group of Nina's friends with the intention that Nina will join then shortly after. However viewers are shown that something bad may have happened to Nina on her initial trip to the house to drop food off for the gang. A scene where Nina calls Andrew and says nothing is the first sign of how unsettling things are going to get and in all honesty at this point I felt slightly unnerved.
The rest of the gang arrive at the snowbound home wondering where their food is, with Andrew acting worried about Nina's well being having not heard from her again. Soon, to pass the time, they each open one of the fortune cookies Andrew had taken on the way out of the Chinese restaurant previously. Creepy messages signalling their deaths make the group uncomfortable and it's from this point things start to get bloody as paranoia kicks in and Andrew starts to really question whether his actions has caused a macabre curse upon them all.
First and foremost I have to say hats off to director/writer Thomy Kessler for the sheer atmosphere he manages to create with shots of the snow covered house from the outside. There's just something here that works so well in its favour and truly made me, as a viewer, feel nervous for those inside the house. Also props inside the house such as the scary clown in the corner of the kitchen add so much to the films sense of creeping dread. In fact I was happy the clown was subsequently used later in one of the films bloodier moments - albeit not in a silly way but in an ominous and eerie sense. In addition all the gore was well done and practical and in places hand-over-the-mouth-horrific. I won't say anything further on that other than electric whisk...
The film also has a running time - just over an hour - that works brilliantly in its favour. It's long enough to pull you straight into its web but not too long to involve any kind of filler scenes.
Add to this some really good performances with Martin Kloss really shining as Andrew. He plays the jerk character really well and also demonstrates some great comedic timing with both his facial expressions and his delivery of lines. I also liked Michelle Yao-Hua as the the waitress with a taste for vengeance and Swaantje Becker as the sweet but slightly hapless Margit.
As I said previously, a huge and welcomed suprise for me for 2013 and wonderfully close to halloween to boot. I hope Snow Owl Slaughter finds its audience because this reviewer found it to be scary and gruesome but more importantly clever, offbeat and original. Given what I have seen here and what I have read about Thomy's previous film The Preening Swan you can call me a huge fan of his craft. Check out the films official Facebook for more information and I hope you guys get to check this out soon!