Last year it was Let the Right One In that was making us Americans look toward Norway in awe, saying “Now that’s good Horror.” This year the horror/comedy from first time director Tommy Wirkola Dead Snow will be doing the same thing, but in a much different tone. Where Let the Right One In was steeped in that Northern European morose quietude owing a lot to Bergman and Dreyer, Dead Snow and its Nazi Zombies are more indebted to Raimi and Romero…meaning it is loud, bloody, and awesome.
The plot is simple enough. What happens when a group of medical students decide to spend their Easter vacation on a mountain infested with Nazi Zombies? Heads are smashed, throats are ripped out, and limbs are severed aplenty. Though Dead Snow starts off a little slow, when the Nazi Zombies start their thrashing things are kicked into a high enough gear no European car even has it. You have to look for an American Muscle Car for that gear, baby.
“How many movies can you name that start with a group of people going to a cabin with no cell phone service?” world’s biggest movie nerd Erlend (Jeppe Laursen) asks his friends while they do just what he described unaware of the Nazi Zombies that lay in store. As they start naming off, Friday the 13th, Evil Dead 1 & 2 it becomes apparent that this film is yearning to fall headlong into the splatter-fest gore-athons that Americans love so well, and it lives up to the comparison with one exception. On this mountain there is no moralizing.
When the inevitable Hollywood remake is churned out there will be a lot of message thrown in with the blood and guts, but up on those Norwegian slopes it is less about who wins, but how they play the game. The best part about this film is that it realizes its own ridiculousness, and asks the audience to do the same. To throw in some sort of ethical message would be to minimize the fun to be had in piles of eviscerated intestines and throngs of Nazi Zombies.
With its big laughs and ample gore this film may challenge the American perception of foreign language films. Usually pictures imported to these shores are thought of as artistic, thought provoking, and often too cerebral for a lazy afternoon. Strangely there is little room for the “low-brow” cinema that is put out in other countries because Hollywood has cornered the market on that type of film. Reading subtitles attracts a certain type of consumer, and those are rarely the ones that want to shell out their hard earned erudite cash to watch Nazi Zombies. Most viewers of Dead Snow will be ones that have sought it out, though if a friend begrudgingly tags along they will be pleasantly surprised.
This movie isn’t going to blow anyone away with any revolutionary filmmaking or groundbreaking screenwriting, but at the end of the day who cares? Some times, even most times, it is better to sit in a dark room with a bunch of strangers and watch something that is just plain fun. This year horror fans will be applauding this film and shouting its praises loud enough to wake the dead… Nazi Zombies.
El Luchador Rating: 4 out of 5 (4 out of 5)
Review By: Paul S. Myers (a.k.a. El Luchador)