When a group of friends plans a ski trip to ring in the new year, they expect winter weather but get far more than they bargained for in the tepid thriller “Snow Falls.” What begins as a festive getaway in an isolated mountain cabin soon descends into paranoia and madness as a blizzard moves in, trapping the group inside with no power or communication.
Director Colton Tran builds a brooding atmosphere but fails to deliver compelling characters or thought-provoking themes in the film’s first act. We learn little about the friends beyond surface-level backstories, making it hard to invest in their fates as the claustrophobic setting unravels their sanity. The talented cast including Anna Grace Barlow and Jonathan Bennett struggle against thinly-written roles that limit their performances early on.
The premise held promise, playing on the chilling effects of hypothermia and isolation. But the film never quite decides whether the snowfall is truly supernatural or simply a catalyst for losing their grip on reality. Instead, Tran relies on tired horror tropes like dark hallucinatory sequences that feel more frustrating than frightening in the first half of the movie.
When the characters begin exhibiting bizarre, violent behavior, their deteriorating mental states should tap into a nerve-wracking psychological tension. Yet implausible leaps in logic suck the suspense out of scenes that depend on taut realism. The first hour culminates in disjointed moments of delirious shrieking that grow tedious as the cast is slowly picked off one by one.
As the film enters its second act, the plot continues losing traction in the snow. The group dynamic unravels through increasingly nonsensical conflicts driven by the characters’ blurring grip on reality. Tran doubles down on stylistic flourishes like jarring sound effects and tilted camera angles, but the disorienting style fails to deepen the psychological tension.
By the final act, the film becomes an exercise in bloody hysterics without any substantive meaning behind the carnage. The characters’ motivations evaporate entirely, making their violence and betrayals feel arbitrary. Any nuanced questions about isolation’s psychological effects vanish beneath shallow horror flick gambits like deranged characters wielding axes.
While cinematographer Noah Rosenthal crafts some striking winter imagery throughout, Tran never layers that technical polish with any perceptive insight. The talented cast struggles valiantly against the script’s shortcomings, particularly in the film’s increasingly absurd third act. But they can’t salvage thinly-sketched characters and meandering, forgettable plot points stretched far past credibility.
In the end, “Snow Falls” delivers neither complex thrills nor campy scares. The film melts away just like the ill-fated snow, leaving a few fleeting chills but no lasting impact. For a thriller about the psychological effects of isolation in a remote winter setting, Tran’s film remains surprisingly shallow. It buries some hints of atmosphere and intrigue beneath repetitive scares and characters lost in the narrative avalanche.