Dead Snow (2009) / Horror-Comedy
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but definitely an R for graphic violence, gore, sexuality, nudity, and language
Running time: 91 min.
Cast: Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Charlotte Frogner, Lasse Valdal, Evy Kasseth Rosten, Jeppe Beck Laursen, Jenny Skavlan, Ane Dahl Torp, Bjorn Sundquist, Orjan Garnst
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Screenplay: Stig Frode Henriksen, Tommy Wirkola
Review published May 14, 2011
Dead Snow is a campy Norwegian horror flick that emulates run-of-the-mill Hollywood-formula slasher films to a tee, while attempting to pay homage to the old-school horror works of Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi. Irritating young medical students get together to a remote vacation in the mountains near Oksfjord, Norway during Easter for fun, frolicking and frivolity, only to find their plans get completely derailed by a homicidal force that picks them off one by one. The one novelty, other than its country of origin, is the fact that the malevolent killing force is a battalion of Nazi soldiers still living in the snowy hills surrounding the remote cabin of the protagonists.
Some might bill this as a zombie horror-comedy hybrid in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, and while both films are definitely comical and gloriously gory, the differences are substantial enough to limit comparison. For one, Shaun of the Dead is a satire of zombie flicks, while Dead Snow is more of a lighthearted recreation of them (much in the way Scream references the plot conventions while its characters are in the thick of it). Shaun is tongue in cheek, while Dead Snow is merely broadly physical in its humor. Shaun gets an equal portion of its laughs through its wit, while Dead Snow gets most through nervous discomfort following a gory surprise. And lastly, Shaun of the Dead could be enjoyed by audiences that aren't fanatics of extremely gory films, while Dead Snow's appeal will be limited to only that crowd.
The plot is somewhat reminiscent of films like Leprechaun in that the horrific antagonists are ostensibly killing in order to get back its loot of gold and treasure from those who've stumbled upon it and taken it in their physical possession (though this is confusing, given at least two early kills prior to the finding of the stash). Modern slasher flick influences abound, including its horny cast of young actors and the "kick-ass" hard-driving rock-pop soundtrack that infusess crazy energy whenever writer-director Wirkola (Kill Buljo) needs the extra jolt.
But no amount of sex, violence, or rock 'n roll can make up for a script that struggles to find genuinely funny humor to dish out (perhaps the funniest scene comes from a head shaker of a coital outhouse visit) and any truly frightening moments that garner a reaction other than stock shock-scares and high doses of entrails-ripping gore. Dead Snow is merely a collection of genre conventions, made strictly for those who find comfort in the familiar when it comes to their gory zombie features.
©2011 Vince Leo