As of this writing, while my area has yet to experience a really good snowfall this winter, the Northeast is bracing itself to get absolutely slammed by a storm that threatens to dump almost three feet of snow on it, to be complemented by high winds and low visibility. Such storms are given silly nicknames, like "Snowpocalypse," "Thundersnow" or "Nemo." And since I could not bring a truckload of snow to my area, with the SyFy TV movie Snowmageddon, at least I could try to do it artificially.
The film is written by Rudy Thauberger, who continued to scratch the 'winter disaster' itch later with a movie called The 12 Disasters of Christmas. It is directed by Sheldon Wilson, who has directed several other similar movies for the network. Set in Alaska, we have Beth (Laura Harris, Dead Like Me), a helicopter pilot, and her husband John (David Cubitt, Medium), the sheriff of the town. They have two kids (a boy and a girl), and the family is generally, even perhaps mildly, bothered by the relative lack of snow in town around the holidays. The void of a White Christmas in Alaska is too much to bear, I suppose. The family has received a gift without a label, and it is an elaborate snow globe that the son immediately takes to. When he starts to play with the globe, catastrophic circumstances start to occur in town, and soon the attempt for the family to get out of town and/or destroy the globe begins.
With a movie based on the premise of a 'cursed' snow globe, there is a certain amount of tongue that one has to place in cheek in order to appreciate it. There is an obligatory conflict the characters face aside from their town crumbling, and it's that there family is splintered into different places when shit starts to go down. Beth and her daughter are shuttling two snowboarders up to a mountain peak for some extreme 'boarding, and John is trying to put out the various small fires (metaphorically and literally) around the area. That leaves the son and his babysitter to carry along the story and try and destroy the cursed globe. And this small journey takes entirely too long for my tastes, which annoyed me. The positive of this journey is that it ends with an appearance by Fred, a crotchety old local played my Michael Hogan, Colonel Tigh of Battlestar Galactica fame. Hogan is supposed to be some sort of "Keye Luke in Gremlins" role where he knows more than he lets on, but for one thing, he does not know all that much and second (and easily more important), it is a gorram snow globe. Break it like you should have done 20 minutes before so we could all go home early.
To be fair, I do not question the commitment of the cast to do what they can with the material. You get the request cheesy CG interpretations of disasters, so they have to react to a lot of nothing when it comes to being shot practically. Harris and Cubitt are identifiable people and their performances lend a certain amount of credence to the film, with emotion, hammy overreaction and the like over the course of 89 terror-filled minutes. If there is a true positive about the film, it is that their performances are about what one would expect with a movie about a cursed snow globe. But circling back to a rule of thumb I have had for similarly kitschy movies; if the cast and crew is aware they are making a kitschy film, then some bubbles will rise in the dough and the cake will suffer as a result. The bubbles in Snowmageddon are the film's story, and it is not even close.
I honestly do not have a problem with the SyFy television movies because they are what they are, so there is already a disclaimer behind trying to evaluate them. But overlooking the premise, the execution tends to be muddled, and that's the flaw behind what could have been a decent catastrophe film. Maybe if the snow does not come to me, I should buy a snow globe?
1.78:1 widescreen viewing, and using the AVC codec for this high-definition presentation, Snowmageddon is pretty much what I expected of it. Film grain is surprisingly present during viewing, though blacks are inconsistent for much of the first act of the film. Image detail tends to lack in the foreground and background, though it has sharpness that is perfectly acceptable. Flesh tones are natural and the image does not have any noticeable bouts with DNR or image haloing. Pretty much a run of the mill transfer.
For a straight to TV movie, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track Snowmageddon has brings both the noise and the ruckus. The ample quakes and earth opening up to show hellfire is given nice justice on the low-end side of things, with subwoofer activity being abundant, which surprised for the feature. Dialogue sounds consistent and balanced and directional effects in the satellites is present and sounds clear, though channel panning is a little scarce. Considering what little I expected out of the movie, the soundtrack was a nice surprise.
Snowmageddon tries but ultimately falters behind what is supposed to carry the story, as it dawdles and starts to make the viewer actually think about its plausibility. This helps tarnish decent performances from their leads. It lacks any bonus material, though technically it was a minor surprise. Ultimately, one would presume SyFy keeps re-airing these things in perpetuity, so one can see this there instead of shelling out hard-earned money to experience it.