Quick off the mark, prolific exploitation hand David DeCoteau cranked out this cash-in on Snow White and the Huntsman, though to be fair instead of a straight retelling screenwriter Barbara Kymlicka tweaks the timeless fairytale into a modern slasher film. Well, sort of. Wilful teenager Snow (Shanley Caswell) is caught riding in a stolen car giving her wicked stepmother Eve (Maureen McCormick) the perfect excuse to get her reluctant father (Eric Roberts) to pack her off to Camp Allegiance, a brutal boot camp for wayward kids. One by one, other inmates start turning up dead, leading Snow to suspect a killer is lurking in the woods and is somehow connected to similar events that happened twenty years ago.
Although intriguing in concept, Snow White - Curse of the Axe Man, or Snow White: A Deadly Summer, as it was originally known in the States, makes so little use of the Snow White motif you wonder why they even bothered. There are the odd interesting ideas, which include re-imagining the "wicked stepmother" character as a schizophrenic who converses with her mirror, but for the most part this squanders a promising premise as simple window-dressing for a substandard Sleepaway Camp clone. As a horror film it is woefully anaemic, lacking the usual exploitable elements like nudity and gore, though seems to have been intended for the Goosebumps crowd of younger teenagers which may also explain why the dramatic subplots are sub-90210.
Kymlicka, whose eclectic C.V. alternates from seasonal TV movies like Holiday Engagement (2011) and Dear Santa (2011), the latter directed by former 90210 star Jason Priestley, and low-budget horror assignments for DeCoteau including Killer Bash (2005), Bigfoot at Holler Creek Canyon (2006) and 1313: Actor Slash Model (2011), crafts a solid set-up but thereafter inexplicably falls back on Snow's ill-explained psychic premonitions as lazy narrative glue. While the film never transcends its low-budget, DeCoteau - who also served as cinematographer - knows how to assemble an efficient DTV thriller. Of course the key word is efficient rather than inspired. After grinding through a load of offscreen deaths and moody but uneventful scenes while the score shrieks and hollers at nothing in particular, the film goes completely off the rails during the last twenty minutes which violate the most basic logic of storytelling.
By far the most notable aspect of a generally unmemorable production is the eclectic cast, with a few wooden performances offset by a majority of admirably committed turns. The biggest crime is the weak material squanders the talented Shanley Caswell who was so good in the ingenious teen comedy horror Detention (2011). Eric Roberts phones in another of his take-the-money-and-run cameos, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon has almost subliminal role glimpsed in flashbacks as Snow's psychiatrist, while Eileen Dietz - once the face of the demon Pazuzu in The Exorcist (1973) - really makes something of her role as the crazy old lady in the woods. And then we have Maureen McCormack, of The Brady Bunch fame, appearing onscreen after a long absence. Yes, that's right, Marcia Brady goes psycho! Though she goes a little over the top throughout the finale, for the most part McCormack is surprisingly creepy yet sorely underused which is sadly emblematic of the cack-handedness of the enterprise as a whole.