This is a surprisingly bloody retelling of the classic fairy tale, begging the question, who is this film for? Adults and horror fans will find little to entertain them, and it is certainly not a kids film. Whilst I concede that the original Grimm tale is not exactly short on nastiness, it is still a story for children. This film however, opens with Baron Hoffman (Sam Neill) having to cut his unborn child from the womb of his screaming wife, following an attack by a pack of wolves. How nice.
The film jumps forward seven years, and all the familiar beats of the classic tale are hit. A stepmother (Sigourney Weaver) arrives on the scene, bringing with her a mirror possessing certain magical qualities. There is jealousy and animosity on both sides. On the wedding night, during the blessing of the marriage bed, Lily (our Snow White surrogate) ruins the ceremony.
Year later, and Lily (Monica Keena) is now a young woman, and Baroness Hoffman is pregnant. In the film’s second horrific and blood-soaked birth, the child is still-born. Insane with grief, the Baroness blames Lily and tries to have her killed. Lily flees to the woods, and finds protection from a rag-tag group of “Crusaders”, led by the very dull Will (Gil Bellows – that dude from Ally McBeal).
The film grinds to a halt at this point, and becomes even more boring and even less scary than it had been previously. It’s quite handsomely produced however, making excellent use of the Czech locations, but it ultimately cannot escape its TV movie origins.
Sigourney Weaver is by far the best thing about the film. She plays the wicked stepmother with a real understanding of the psychology of her character. Unhinged with grief. Obsessed with youth, and knowing deep down that she will always be second best in the eyes of the Baron. When it is required however, subtlety is cast aside and she dials up the crazy to fantastic levels.
Unfortunately the film just doesn’t really amount to anything. It’s an adult version of a fairy tale. If that is your premise then you really need to commit. It should be scary, weird, sexy and violent. Yes this is gruesome in places, but that is not enough to make it a worthwhile viewing experience. If you want a truly dark and revisionist take on the Snow White fairy tale, then check out the music video for Sonne by Rammstein.
Snow White: A Tale of Terror is a straight up TV movie, and to be perfectly honest, TV is where it belongs. Very late at night. On an obscure cable channel, far away from the innocent eyes of an unsuspecting viewer.
Cast: Monica Keena, Sam Neill, Sigourney Weaver Director: Michael Cohn Writer: Tom Szolossi & Deborah Serra Released By: Fabulous Films Certificate: 15 Duration: 100 mins Release Date: 4th April 2016