In 2011 director Zach Clark began a Kickstarter campaign to finance his fourth feature film. Within 52 days, the campaign reached its goal of $33,500, and White Reindeer was born.
Written, directed and produced by Clark, White Reindeer tells the story of Suzanne Barrington, an estate agent living in Washington with her husband. As Christmas is approaching, Suzanne arrives home one evening to find her husband brutally murdered, and her life turned upside down. Suzanne faces more heartache when she discovers a secret about her husband’s life that he had kept hidden.
The format that many Christmas films follow, showing misery turning into happiness through the joy of Christmas, is not the message of White Reindeer. In fact, it is the opposite, with Suzanne’s misery coming out at Christmas, her favourite time of the year. White Reindeer is very much a non-traditional Christmas film.
Although it has a relatively short run time of 82 minutes, the many extended scenes of Suzanne simply crying or staring across the room can make the film feel like it lasted a lot longer. Indeed, it may seem that White Reindeer doesn’t have much to offer in the way of drama or plot, but it certainly does contain one factor which can be underrated in film nowadays: originality.
Although White Reindeer is a film about a woman coming to terms with her grief, there are several humorous moments within this dark comedy, perfectly coupled with the emotions of Suzanne being shown throughout. Even though we are seeing the grief from Suzanne’s point of view, it is very often in the film that the viewer feels like they are watching Suzanne trying to cope with her grief from a distance. We are close to the character, yet we can’t always tell what she is feeling. The journey of grief that Suzanne takes is interwoven with a range of interesting characters from strippers to wife swappers.
Anna Margaret Hollyman holds the film almost completely on her own as the grieving Suzanne, and enjoyably, the film resists an ending in keeping with standard Christmas fare. White Reindeer is perfect viewing for anyone seeking out an original dark comedy this festive season.
White Reindeer will be released on DVD on 24th November 2014.