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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a more horror-oriented version of the classic Brothers Grimm
fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", in which Snow White, in
this case named Lilliana, or "Lila" (Monica Keena), has to deal with a
psycho stepmother, named Claudia Hoffman (Sigourney Weaver) here, and
ends up living with the seven dwarfs, or in this case, one dwarf and
seven "rogues of the forest".
Snow White as a horror tale sounds like a good deal, and for the most part, it is when it comes to this film. However, there were a couple flaws that brought down my score to an 8 out of 10, but overall, this is a very good movie, well worth watching.
Let's get the flaws out of the way first--there are only two. The first is that some of the performances can tend towards melodrama, especially since director Michael Cohn does his best to ensure that no humor enters the proceedings. It's a very slight flaw, however, and is barely enough to subtract a point. On the whole, the performances here are very good, especially Keena and Weaver, and they are the focus of the film.
The more serious flaw is that a number of important developments in the plot go unexplained. There may have been an assumption that the audience is so familiar with the source material that they would be able to figure out these leaps, but most of the audience will only be familiar with filmic versions of Snow White, especially the Disney version. Questions such as "How did she awaken? Why did she spit the apple out?" are most easily answered by those with a familiarity with the original Brothers Grimm story. However, that's probably not a huge percentage of the film's audience. Having to piece together some of the plot is enough to draw the viewer out of the film's world a bit, and in conjunction with the melodrama, was significant enough for me to subtract two points.
But this film does a huge number of things right. It's clear from the opening scene, where Lilliana's parents are on their way home, riding in a carriage through a menacing forest. Vicious wolves, perhaps looking for food, attack, and the carriage goes tumbling down a hill. Lilliana's mother, pregnant and close to giving birth, is fatally wounded, and her father, Friedrich Hoffman (Sam Neill, playing a character undoubtedly named after E.T.A. Hoffman, another famous 19th Century fantasy writer), at Lilliana's request, cuts the baby out to save it, thereby also killing the mother. Although this isn't graphically shown, we do see blood pouring down the snow, which is another reference to the Grimm text, and this leads to the titles.
That kind of horror material occurs throughout the film. Make no mistake, this is not your typical family fare. We have hints of incest, cannibalism, rape, shrines to dead babies that later come back to life, and so on. Horror fans who also love more straightforward fantasy, such as myself, will love it, and in a way, it is much more consistent with the tone of the typical Brothers Grimm story (although the script is as far removed from this particular tale as Disney's is). Anyone with a more "sensitive" constitution should probably avoid the film, or at least make sure that they don't begin watching with preconceptions of a live action version of Disney's film.
Despite its flaws, this is a gem of a horror film--horror is "dark fantasy" after all--and deserves to be more well known.
Although I liked Disney's version of the Snow White tale (and still keep it as the classic example of fairy-tale screen- handling), still I was positively struck with this adaptation. Now here's the version no-one would have dreamed of ever seeing. The all-innocent victimised princess has been turned into a proud little brat who despises her step-mother from the very first time she sees her; the mean, scheming, mirror-gazing step-mother was changed into a lady doing her best to be accepted by her husband's intolerant daughter - only after miscarrying her son does she turn into the stereotype of evil; the adorable seven little dwarfs were metamorphosized into seven miners, some of whom really hate the girl. Best of all the Prince charming has been erased and the silly "Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" likewise. Anyway the film is a masterpiece from beginning to end - the highlights being the spells cast by the maddened step-mother. Being a gothic horror movie, it still has some spurts of really dark humour, such as Claudia saying, "Mmmm... Delicious!" when eating the supposedly cooked Lilly; and "I have brought someone to keep you company" (to the crucifix). The on-location shooting is very adequate and the superb performances from everyone make this a movie worth watching and appreciating.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
On a trip home, Lord and Lady Hoffman's coach turns over and is attacked by
wolves. Lady Hoffman gives birth to her child in the midst of death and
Lord Hoffman brings her up alone. Years later Hoffman remarries to Claudia
but his daughter Lilly and her fail to hit it off. Claudia blames Lilly
for keeping the memory of his first wife alive and for the death of her own
child at birth. She tries to kill her but she flees into the forest where
she is taken in by a gang of miners. However Claudia uses magic under the
guidance of her all seeing mirror to strike at Lilly again.
I wasn't sure if this film had ever even seen the inside of an UK cinema but I decided to give it a go anyway and I found it to be enjoyable even if it felt like a pantomime without the comedy dame and a really big budget. The plot was quite intriguing to one who has only ever know the cartoon version, but it is close enough to that tale to be instantly recognisable. The dark, adult edge to it adds in some ways but at times it feels like it's trying too hard to be nasty. The film isn't too long which helps it have a brisk pace about it and it tries to skip from one reasonable exciting scene to another.
What really makes it worth watching is Weaver giving a really good performance as Claudia. She portrays a human face gradually being led into worse deeds by the lies of her mirror. She avoids hamming it up and is very enjoyable to watch. Neill is very much on the sidelines but another familiar face doesn't hurt. Keena isn't quite up to the role for me. She is good but when the danger comes she is really only a scream and not a character. The miners (7 dwarves) hold a few faces in Bellows and Glover but really they are either monsters or wear their "good guy really" badges on their sleeves from the start.
Overall this darker version is worth watching just to see a tale closer to the original version rather than the cartoon from Disney. Some of it feels like it doesn't have a good plot (the action scenes after the middle tended to blur together for me) but it holds together pretty well. The main reason for watching is a strong central role for Weaver.
Trying to rent a "known" horror movie is somewhat of a Herculean task at
7:30 PM on Halloween night, and as such, I was down to the "slim pickins"
the horror shelf at the local video outlet, so I was surprised to see this
movie still on the shelf, what with the star power attached to it and
attractive video box. I'd never heard of it!
What a surprise to find a genuinely creepy and atmospheric horror story contained within, and a PERFECT movie to watch on Halloween night. The cinematography is sumptuous and lush, especially during the scenes in which the evil Lady is casting spells on Lilliana and her various compatriots. The story itself, though, is a little muddy and hard to follow (not much time is spent on character development, presuming the characters will all be familiar to you in an alternate-Disney-universe sort of way) and thus the film isn't as good as it could be. But all the actors and filmmakers make the best out of what they have, and the result is a genuinely creepy, and at some points disturbing (I challenge anyone to stay calm during the Lady's final confrontation with Lilliana) re-telling of a classic fairy tale. I highly recommend this movie as one to spring on one's friends, unaware ... in the dark.
When I picked this up, I wasn't sure I wanted to see it. I thought it
looked kind of interesting, and I guess for five bucks in Wal-Mart, why
not? I tend to like bad B movies, so what's the harm?
And despite my initial misgivings, I thought it was excellent.
The story wavered from the Grimm's version, but that's part of what makes it original. The portrayal of the era wasn't perfect, but then that didn't hurt the story much either. I thought the acting was done pretty well, especially Sigourney Weaver. She worked well with a character that was pretty weirdly written. I loved her as the old woman in the forest and in the final scene. Very eerie. Very cool.
The scenes with Lilliana and the dwarfs were a bit choppy in parts--first Will threatened her, then he saved her, then he yelled at her, then...yadda yadda yadda--but Monica Keena played the sheltered damsel well and Gil Bellows was good at the whole "tortured but sincere" act. I was definitely left imagining what the screenwriters should have put in the holes, but all in all I thought that storyline was sweet.
Definitely not a movie for children, but then the title and rating suggest so. Again, some of the story needed to be filled out and explained more, but in total, I loved it. Creepy and cool and fun.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I like the fairy tale version of Snow white,but I always had a couple of questions about the story. (1)Why did the evil queen die so easily? (Lighting strikes the cliff and the queen falls to her death. Come on! I was a little kid when I read the story but give me some credit.) (2)Why did Snow White fall deeply in love with the prince? She barely knows him. (3) Why did the huntsman decide not to kill Snow White? I doubt that her kindness had an effect on his decision. These are couple of questions I always had pertaining to Snow White. The movie version of the tale, which I found out recently is closer to the original version, answers most my questions. The characters were more realistic. The movie was a good mix of realism and fantasy. The movie isn't really scary or gruesome, but it is supenseful and creepy. I liked the change of the dwarfs. I would of liked the movie to go into more detail about the relationship between the stepmother and Snow White. The twist with the love interest was good too. Also, Snow White in this movie has more heart than in the Disney version. If this movie had a little bigger budget, some good advertising, and people seriously backing it than it probably would of been in the theaters around the same time as "Ever After". More people need to take notice of Monica Keena (Snow White), more likely known from the show Dawson Creek and the made for T.V. movie First Daughter, she's one of the few good young actors out today. Gil Bellows was good in his part too. And Mrs. Weaver is excellent in her role as the evil stepmother. Everybody else in the movie was decent. For all the people who are expecting a gorefest with nudity, look elsewhere because this isn't the movie for you. The movie is based more on atmosphere and the humanization of the characters. The movie is a gothic fantasy film with a little bit of horror, romance, and suspense mixed together. I give the movie a 7/10.
We stumbled on this movie by chance and have now seen it at least three times. This is a must see, and see again, and again, and again... From the opening scene, the movie pulls you in and keeps you hooked until the end. This is definitely not a movie for kids. All the basic elements of the classic "Snow White" tale are in place, but with a twist that sets them slightly within the realm of possibility. There are no cute bearded dwarfs here, and it's just not as simple as an evil witch versus an innocent girl. Sigourney Weaver as Claudia Hoffman is entirely too scary for words, while Monica Keena as Lili is a sweet but strong Snow White. Gil Bellows is highly satisfying as Will, an intense forest rogue with more to him than meets the eye. A very satisfying movie all around.
After seeing this film, I had mixed feelings. I was wondering if I was
confused, excited, blown away or a combination of all three. SNOW WHITE: A
TALE OF TERROR. A film based somewhat more accurately on the Grimm Brothers
classic horror story, you are going to enjoy it no matter what! Sam Neill
and Sigourney Weaver were very good in the film. It starts off slow,
developing the characters and becoming a nice, little period piece. Until
the horror begins...
I apologize, but I cannot remember a single name from the entire film, aside from Snow White, so you will just have to bear with me. I was slightly confused with what I was being given. All I knew, was that I liked it. I like old fashioned Gothic horror stories that go back a couple hundred years to give you a nice tale of terror. The real legend of Snow White is here. The Grimm Brothers' tale has been created in vibrant life and its all here. The apple and all.
All the elements of the snobby rich people, the poor, the forest, the deadness all around and the gothic atmosphere combine to create a genuinely bone-chilling tale. SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR gets 4/5.
I hated this when it was initially released, but I really appreciated it this second time around. It is no Disney flick and not intended for children. From what I understand, it is based on the original source by the Grimm Brothers. While it is never particularly scary, the effects are great, and it is darkly atmospheric (especially the scenes outside of the castle and in the surrounding woods). Sigourney Weaver is excellent as the Wicked Stepmother (who, it is suggested, isn't inherently wicked but driven insane after a miscarriage). Monica Keena does a decent job as Lily, the Snow White figure who has never been beyond the castle, and knows nothing but her privileged upbringing. The "seven dwarfs" (only one is an actual "little person") are actually a group of miners trying to strike it rich and find a better life, and they aren't exactly cordial when the princess stumbles upon their abode. They are led by the unbelievably foxy Gil Bellows (who knew a castmember of Ally MacBeal could be...sexy?!). The story is ultimately a successful tale of looking beyond social class, but it would have benefited more from focusing on the eschewing of Prince Charming as well as showing what was going on inside of the stepmother's head. She is unfortunate but never a sympathetic character. My Rating: 7/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Pure, lovely angelic innocent Lilliana's(Monica Keena, who exudes all
the qualities of a live action Snow White, with her hair colored black
for added effect) new stepmother, Lady Claudia(Sigourney Weaver) is
secretly a witch who envies the bond she has with father Lord
Friedrich(Sam Neill), her husband. Haunted by the memory of Friedrich's
late wife Lady Lilliana, Claudia also must deal with the fact that
Lilli favors her so. Coveting the baby in her belly, Claudia's mental
state worsens when a stillbirth occurs after a negative reaction to
Lilli who dresses in one of her mother's gowns taking the crowd's(..and
Friedrich's specifically)attention during a ball. Claudia plots the
murder of Lilli, asking for her mute magician brother Gustav(Miroslav
Táborský) to cut the heart from Snow White's chest(..planning to use
Lilli's "leftovers" for a feast). When that goes awry, and Lilli is
separated from her home in the forest nearby, she falls into a hole
leaving her lost as Gustav kills a pig pretending it's heart was hers.
The rest of the film follows Lilli, far from home, as she finds herself
in the company of foul, grubby men(..the seven dwarfs, except they
aren't dwarfs..well there is one..and don't, at first, offer a very
friendly welcoming committee)who were cast away from society, mining
for gold. While Lilli finds herself falling in love with the brooding,
emotionally..and facially..scarred member of the group, Will(Gil
Bellows), Claudia uses forms of sorcery in the attempts to
I found this grim, Gothic horror bliss. I was especially entertained at how the Castle Friedrich, for the first part of the film is bright with a warm atmosphere, and as Claudia begins to take over once her husband breaks his leg, the place becomes dark and foreboding. There's this cabinet that contains a magic mirror, perhaps a Satanic instrument, with this beautiful face representing a fake Claudia whose voice offers evil, manipulative advice for ways she could get her revenge and reap her (un)just rewards through acts of witchery. I particularly liked one sequence where Claudia casts spell on Lilli using a cute bird in an hourglass as the sand slowly buries it as we see an avalanche occur where Snow White and the miners seemed doomed. There's a raven Claudia uses as eyes, and a nifty scene where Gustav's hand opens a wound with a spider crawling out before he's paid back for his betrayal of his sister for not finishing the task asked of him. Weaver has a great scene, dressed as an old lady, where she manipulates Lilli into eating a poisoned apple. And, her dinner table scene, where she believes that the meal was made from Lilli's remains(..and she even takes a bite, with ecstasy glowing on her face, awaiting Friedrich's turn to eat)is deliciously wicked. And, there's this great scene where Claudia causes a windstorm by spinning in a hall with trees falling down nearly toppling Lilli and the men(..actually crushing one of them).
Weaver might be cast against type but inhabits the role of Claudia, the witch, with relish, devouring the screen. And, I must admit, I found her striking in a seductive way in certain types of flowing gowns, with her overflowing hair. Sure, as the film continues, she grows more and more ugly, but despite inheriting the role of a witch she has these moments(..like when she has sex with a bedridden Friedrich she poisoned)where Weaver has never been more sexy on screen. Yet, Weaver always dominates the screen with this darkness and evil intent, always pursuing the death of innocence standing in her way. I had read that this film was sadistic and bloody, but it really isn't. The ending, Claudia's fate, is really the most violent of the film, and even that isn't THAT gruesome. I think the film's true success is how the film captures the mood and look of a Grimm fairy tale. I like how the film shifts from the ever-growing ominous nature of the castle as it shapes itself after Claudia, and the forest abode of the men and Lilli with such vibrant autumn colors. Kudos to the filmmakers and crew who created a horror film which can make gloom and doom look so fantastic.
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