HONEYMOON AT COLD HOLLOW (2023)
Director: Nat Rovit.
Actors: Jessie Paddock. Russ Russo.
Seen At: Nightmares Film Festival 2023.
"In the winter of 1974, newlyweds are snowed into an isolated cabin in the wilderness where starvation reveals the husband's true evil."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Set in 1974 Vermont, Honeymoon at Cold Hollow is a tense, creepy, and extremely well-crafted short film by writer/director Nat Rovit.
David (Russ Russo) and Mary (Jessie Paddock) are a newlywed couple on their way to honeymoon in a remote cabin. The opening cuts between them excitedly and nervously talking about their wedding, and the car ride to the cabin that becomes tense and claustrophobic. “Today we’re just two people, but tomorrow you’re going to have to love me – forever,” Mary says in a way that hugs the line between optimistic and ominous.
On their way, the couple are pulled over by a strutting, gum-smacking smalltown sheriff – a typical horror trope. He bristles at hearing the destination, Cold Hollow, and tells them about “a pretty nasty little affair,” where a local man recently murdered his wife there. The exchange is both creepy and campy.
David and Mary eventually make it to the cabin, but a freak snowstorm traps them inside, and that’s when the earlier buildup starts to pay off. From there, the short pivots between classic horror and arthouse surrealism, as the struggle to escape turns deadly.
Rovit and his crew absolutely nail the period setting. From the opening frame, there’s a distinctive warmth and crackle, with faded colors, the slight wobble of handheld cameras, and the vaguely underwater sound of music played on old tape.
Paddock is terrific playing the wide-eyed and optimistic new bride who doesn’t see the sharp turn coming. Russo, from the start, has an edge and a weight to him, so it’s no surprise when he’s the first to crack. Both actors play well off each other.
But the real highlight is the sum of all the parts. The lived in, analog look, feel and sound could not be more authentic. It’s also worth noting the original score by Deadly Avenger and Si Begg that really brings the eerie atmosphere together.
The best short films are often showcases of what actors and filmmakers can do, and could do on a larger scale. At just under 15 minutes, Honeymoon at Cold Hollow packs a ton of atmosphere and dread that instantly feels like forgotten gem of a horror movie from the early-to-mid 70s. It’s a credit to everyone who worked on this project that made it feel so genuine, and a great calling card for what they all do next.