Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dead Snow (2008)

We all know the great threat zombies pose…their large hordes of shamblers are no match for just a few survivors in most cases. Yet, these shamblers are slow and don’t really possess cognitive thinking…all they are thinking about is their next serving of brains.

So wouldn’t it be a whole lot scarier if the zombies in question were military trained with the ability to be organized? And not just that, but super-evil Nazi zombies?! Plus, these zombies are wicked fast, sneaking up on their targets and slicing their necks open with rusty blades or even climbing trees to go after their prey.

These Nazi zombies aren’t just after brains or flesh either…they are searching for their long-lost Nazi gold and revenge against the villagers that stole it from them.

This is the basic premise of Norway’s Dead Snow, a rolicking zombie tale of a group of medical students who head up to the snow-covered mountains for an Easter ski vacation at their friend’s remote cabin. They don’t realized that this remote region has a dark, bloody history. In World War II, the Nazis had a stronghold nearby and made the neighboring villagers’ lives hell. The Nazis amassed a fortune in gold by stealing from the villagers and killing anyone who stood in their way. One day, the villagers finally decided to fight back. They killed as many Nazis as they could and drove the survivors back into the mountains, where they supposedly froze to death. Now, years later the group of 20-somethings has awoken the Nazi zombies who are very eager to regain their lost riches and seek revenge by killing anyone in sight…

Dead Snow is a film that is full of fun, infectious energy! Its comedy isn’t as obvious as I expected, but the balance between slapstick and splatterfest is near perfect! Though the film treads familiar horror ground (a fact that the characters even poke fun at), it has enough manic energy to propel itself forward and never once does it feel stale or too familiar.

The story, while simple and borrowing from many other horror flicks, is well-constructed and there is enough going on so that the viewer doesn’t lose interest. I liked how writers Tommy Wirkola (who also directed) and Stig Frode Henriksen split up the characters and didn’t leave them all stuck in the cabin while the Nazis besieged them. One went searching for his missing girlfriend and encountered the Nazi zombies’ headquarters in a cave, a few others made a mad dash for the car while others distracted the zombies and still others were sure-fire zombie-fodder. All this action and different locations really kept the film moving at a fast clip.

I felt that the character development was a bit lacking. I couldn’t really tell the characters apart and didn’t quite know who was dating who, who was single, etc. Since most of the characters end up as zombie snacks this wasn’t THAT big of a deal, but it did cause some frustration in the beginning of the movie. As for the actors, I thought they all did a fantastic job, whether they were playing it straight or campy.

Another thing that bothered me a bit was that it is never quite explained how the Nazi soldiers came back to life (and why they were so full of fresh, flowing, red blood if they had frozen to death 60 or so years ago!). Still, I let this slide because the rest of the film is just so darn enjoyable!!

As for the gore, you just can’t go wrong with heads getting crushed like ripe watermelons, self-amputation and self-cauterization, limbs getting ripped off, arterial blood sprays against white snow, a snow mobile bisecting a zombie, a zombie bisecting a human, intestines being used as rope and so on. Dead Snow is an extremely satisfying bloodbath! And the special effects makeup the zombies wear looks great! They look like proper evil undead Nazis, complete with rotting faces and dried-up, crusty skin.

Dead Snow is a crowd-pleasing zombie flick that is a perfect mix of slapstick and splatterfest! While it has a few flaws, these are easily overlooked in light of its exhilarating energy. It is definitely a must-see for zombie fans and will leave you with a big grin on your face after experiencing it.

All Heil Dead Snow!

Buy it on Amazon!

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