*Originally written in 2011
In horror, there is a sub genre for all occasions. The Nazi-zombie sub-genre can be seen as a split off from both the zombie horror film, and from the Nazi horror film. While this little sewer of filth has seen its more than fair share of unmentionable crap, every so often a gem emerges, and Dead Snow is such a gem. Taking its cues from the best of 80’s splatter, it is a lighthearted, ultra-violent romp through the pistes of Norway and is packed with the sort of invention which Horror fans crave and all too often do not receive, especially in US releases.
Dead Snow effectively picks up where Evil Dead 3 left off – even though there have been a flurry of ultra-violent horror comedies since the genre’s 80s peak, few have come close to hitting the fun, the spectacle, the inventiveness, or the quality of those we know and love. Dead Snow takes the best of those, carves its own brutal path, and updates for a 21st Century audience aiming to please both seasoned gore-hounds and those just setting out on their bloody descent. Apparently loosely based on Scandinavian myth, the film’s plot follows the tried and true trope of students trapped in a cabin far from any safe haven, and under siege from the undead. The undead here though are not simply mindless killers, but Nazi soldiers buried in the snow for decades and woken to presumably take back the treasure they believe to be their’s. There’s some mention of a curse, some references to vague histories, but the backstory of the bad guys is simply a tool to let the blood flow. Trying to survive the onslaught are a bunch of students, not the typical mix of jock, whore, nerd, virgin etc, but a less caricatured, less defined group of similar individuals. Once again, we don’t spend a lot of time getting to know them as they are simply there to run, hide, fight, kill, and die. Typically for these types of films that would be a notch in the negative column, but here we are barely afforded a moment to concern ourselves as the carnage doesn’t take long to begin. Each person is likable enough that they are not irritating, but neither are they well enough developed to truly care about, but their charm and humour at least make us root for them.
In homage to the greats, we have a bunch of cliches on display but they are presented with love and in most cases flipped in such a way to make them seem fresh or to not allow us to be concerned that they are cliches; An old hermit gives us plenty of exposition; a chainsaw is never too far away; sex leads to death; dreams are portents and clues. Once the zombies begin their attack, the smile will rarely leave your face as both undead are living are dispatched in hilarious, original, and bloody fashion. The effects team does an excellent job and the director knows what the audience wants to see, keeping the action free-flowing and fast-moving. The acting is fine, though as the characters are fairly indistinguishable there isn’t a lot of room for any of them to emerge as an Ash or a Lionel.
Dead Snow is a film which is destined to continue to do well with international horror audiences jaded by the middle of the road bores or over the top, lacking in ideas or heart movies of Hollywood. If you have an interest in horror movies then this should be on your watch list, though I can’t recommend it for anyone who doesn’t have a strong stomach.
Let us know in the comments what you made of Dead Snow and how you feel it compares with others of its ilk!