There’s no shortage of revenge movies in the world. Vengeance is one of the most popular character motivations in storytelling, and it’s been used so many times that there’s nothing new left for the subgenre to offer, right?
Snowflake, directed by Adolfo J. Kolmerer and William James, is a revenge movie with a lot of self-awareness made front and center. Just about everyone in this movie wants revenge on someone who’s done them wrong in the past, creating a cycle of revenge in which everyone sees themselves as righteous as they relentlessly pursue their wrongdoers. The most innocent of these characters is Eliana, a young girl who watched her parents get needlessly murdered in a restaurant massacre. With the help of her caretaker, she pursues the murderous duo named Javid and Tan, but she underestimates the costs of hunting dangerous men.
Oh, and the two men just so happen to have the screenwriter to their lives in the trunk of their car. Sort of a huge advantage.
The amount of meta-storytelling throughout the movie may be off-putting to some viewers, but if you’re open-minded you might enjoy the quirky comedic style and how it works to further the plot. There are some truly hilarious moments, particularly the screenwriter’s interactions with Javid and Tan. In an early scene, shortly after Javid and Tan find the screenplay to Snowflake and track down the writer, they get caught in an endless loop of reading everything they’re about to say half a second before they say it.
It’s worth noting that the comedic moments don’t suffocate the tension between characters or undermine the squirm-in-your-seat moments of torture and cruelty. Snowflake is a well-balanced movie in every way, and the directors seem to have a sixth sense about how much is too much and how much is just enough.
For example, look at the lawless world of the story. Character in strange masks roam the streets in factions, each of them knowing a little bit about the others but mostly as a means to serve themselves any way they can. Among the crowd are cannibals, angels, “robots,” and even God Himself. I won’t explain how they all appear in the story; you need to experience the journey for yourself. You’d think such a wide variety of characters would be hard to juggle while keeping the story in motion, but the execution is pretty much flawless.
One of the themes throughout the story is the pursuit of hope. The title character, Snowflake, is a living representation of hope, and both Javid and Tan are enamored with her. But accepting hope into their lives would mean dropping their own all-consuming quest for revenge, and as later stated in the movie, “Without blood there can be no forgiveness of sin.” Hope is a dangerous thing in this movie, and the way it’s represented adds another layer to characters who would otherwise just be two bad guys on a quest.
Oh, that’s another thing: the term “bad guys.” This is a point of contention when the screenwriter informs Javid and Tan of their role in the story. As mentioned earlier, everyone who’s out for revenge feels their cause is just, so none of them are “bad guys” in their own minds. It’s another meta moment, and it’s given a good payoff in the end.
Artsploitation Films has been on fire with recent releases, and Snowflake is another big win for them. A common theme between Snowflake and Trauma (another Artsploitation masterpiece released in 2018) is violence begetting violence. Both stories take place in foreign lands, and enjoyment of these movies can be complemented by context gleaned from learning about cultures outside of our own. That’s not to say you have to spend any amount of time learning to enjoy these movies, only that they both seem to have another layer available to audiences willing to spend some time reading a bit of history.
If you’re into Tarantino, the Coen brothers, and strange stories that confuse you in the best possible way, Snowflake is the movie for you.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Artsploitation Films.