ZOMBIE Week: Dead Snow (2009) Review

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Tommy Wirkola directs this Norwegian zombie film which has, since its release five years ago, become something of a cult classic among genre fans. Written by Wirkola and Stig Frode Henriksen, who plays Roy in the film, this snowy scene splashed with blood and entrails is definitely one of the better zombie releases in recent years.

Wirkola, who directed the sequel to this recently, as well as the buried-though-I-felt-enjoyable Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, does a good job of setting up the final act, bringing a sense of humour to the film that isn’t in your face or over-done, but subtle in many ways, until the physical comedy in the final moments anyway.

The film tells the story of a group of medical student friends who travel to a mountain cabin for a boozy and fun break from their city life. It’s a traditional set-up, but the beautiful snow-covered terrain is lovely and presents a nice clear canvas to get splattered with the red stuff. Soon, the peace and relaxation of the group is interrupted when a middle-aged man comes to the cabin and tells them a story about the dangers of the area and how there was an evil Nazi presence that they should be aware of. Soon, after initially laughing off the man’s tale, they realise that they have stumbled on a place that is out for blood, brains and murder. They must survive while attempting to find the missing members of the group across the ice-cold land of flesh eaters that they have walked into.

Dead Snow begins traditionally, setting up the relationships between the friends, showing their care-free moments and traits and then bringing the big Nazi hammer down on them all. It’s a film that has a tone of comedy about it, but not an obvious one, it isn’t slapstick or blatant, but rather well-written dialogue and some of the interactions with the zombies provide some good laughs. The zombies themselves are not the traditional Romero-style zombies that groan, walk slowly and have their arms stretched out, grabbing for anything. No, these zombies run, they stand in line, they seem to think, and they even climb trees, these are advanced, evil, Nazi zombies and they mean business. The design of the creeping dead, in this, is great, they look intimidating.

I thoroughly had fun with Dead Snow. It isn’t a perfect film, and there were moments when the comedy was perhaps upped a little too much (zombie biting penis, anyone?) but the characters were well done, the gore was top notch, and it felt fresh, even though it was more of the same in the genre. I loved the setting, I enjoyed the horror aspect, and I had a good time with the set-up too, which can often be the bland and boring part of horror movies. With nods to other horror flicks and some very original death scenes, Dead Snow is a pleasing experience, not backing-out on what it sets out to do.

If you like the idea of a living dead Nazi ripping the guts out of a poor helpless student before sticking a grenade in their torso and blowing them to smithereens then this is, certainly, for you. I can’t wait to jump into the sequel, soon.

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