Film Review: Dead Snow / Død Snø (2009)

Directed by Tommy Wirkola, written by Stig Frode Henriksen and Tommy Wirkola, and starring Charlotte Frogner, Ørjan Gamst, Stig Frode Henriksen, Vegar Hoel, Jeppe Laursen, Evy Kasseth Røsten, Jenny Skavlan, Bjørn Sundquist, Ane Dahl Torp, and Lasse Valdal.

"Eight medical students on a ski trip to Norway discover that Hitler's horrors live on when they come face to face with a battalion of undead Nazi soldiers intent on devouring anyone unfortunate enough to wander into the remote mountains where they were once sent to die. It's Easter vacation, and what better way to spend the break than skiing down the isolated hills just outside of Øksfjord, Norway? After packing their cars with enough beer and ski equipment to ensure that a good time will be had by all, the students set out for their destination and prepare for a relaxing snowbound getaway. Shortly after arriving at their remote cabin, however, the students receive an unexpected visit from a rather suspicious hiker. According to their shady visitor, the Nazis occupied this territory during World War II. In the aftermath of their brutal raping and pillaging, the locals revolted, driving the few surviving Nazi soldiers -- including their iron-fisted leader, Colonol Herzog -- deep into the hills. Neither the soldiers nor their leader were ever seen again. Everyone in town assumed that they simply froze to death. But there's something stirring out there in the trees, and it won't be long until the unsuspecting students discover how the story really ends."

"Ein! Zwei! Die!" Nazis and zombies just seem to go hand in hand, like nachos and beer, like vibrant colors and figure-skating, and like a wife with menopause and a cheating husband. Movies featuring Nazi zombies are instant classics: Zombie Lake (1981), Oasis of the Zombies (1983), and Outpost (2008). But it all began with Ken Wiederhorn's Shock Waves in 1977. And when you think about it, why the fuck not? Nazis were known for the twisted experiments on people and Hitler's fascination with old legends like the Holy Grail. Hell, this is even the basis for the Hellboy comics and movies, and follows this premise all through its story. Only, in Norway's Dead Snow, director Tommy Wirkola cuts rights to the chase, bypassing the lengthy explanations on how these fascist SS soldiers became the living dead. In truth, it doesn't really matter because this movie, at its core, is a tightly fitting homage to the horror genre, and especially zombie movies. One of the characters even sports a Peter Jackson's Braindead t-shirt and understands the "zombie rules" enough to point out that getting bit will result in becoming one yourself.


Much in the same vein as Shaun of the Dead, Dead Snow is a perfect blend of comedy and horror. Some may find this complicating their enjoyment, but I had no trouble at all. For the comedy fans, there's plenty of gut-busting laughs and chuckles to be had. And for the horror fans, there's gut-wrenching gore and more blood-soaked scenes than American cinema, more often than not, has the guts to try. But where Dead Snow succeeds is when they're both spendidly melded together to make you laugh and repulse in the same moment. The film was officially released January in Norway and the US premiere was held at the Sundance Film Festival, which wowed genre fans and has been getting lots of press all over the internet. The film has a limited release in the US, which began in June.

It starts off like classic horrors movies, in the sense that it slowly continues to build to the end, opening with a group of friends heading to their cabin in the mountains, then enjoying activities like sledding with mid-college drinking. I can't help but miss this direction of filmmaking, as opposed to simply jumping right into the action with a cheesy, sub-par scary opening. Though Dead Snow is a fantastic movie on its own, you'll see some nice homages, everything from The Descent to Indiana Jones is affectionately featured here. The movie builds and builds, and so does the violence, to an almost zenith culmination. The last twenty minutes or so are completely drenched in blood. Just like the Nazi zombie films that came before it, Dead Snow has become an instant classic. Most American undead flicks should so be so lucky. I highly recommend checking this one out. I reported a few days ago about Dead Snow getting an official DVD release of January 26th next year. It's a long wait, but worth every bit. Here's a little clip from the last third of the movie. I wouldn't suggest watching it if you haven't seed the movie already, but who am I to tell you what to do?

Best quote: "Isn't your grandfather half Jewish? They would not recruit someone who is half Jewish, would they?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Zombie nazis with Cialis included ? that's so nasty, no way.