In any case, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted one of these, but I’ve been wanting to watch/review this one for a while so what better time than now! Dead Snow is a Norwegian comedically-self-aware horror movie that involves a group of college students going up to spend a vacation in an isolated cabin. Does it feel like you’ve seen this movie before? The Evil Dead 2, Cabin in the Woods, Scream, and more have already covered the genre of meta-horror pretty well, so why should you see a foreign film that more or less does the same thing?
Much like the idea of a movie made about Moon Nazis all but required me to see this year’s Iron Sky, those to words are the reason that this movie has been on my must-see list since I found out about it. So, when I found it on Netflix last night, is seemed as if the stars had aligned. While there are a lot of parts that certainly could have been handled better, Dead Snow‘s combination of whimsy and surprisingly intense scares make it a must see for anyone with an interest in non-mainstream horror (I’m looking at you, Head in a Vice)
As I said above, Dead Snow is the story of a group of 7 Norwegian med students who travel up to a remote cabin in the mountains for a ski vacation. With the 8th member planning to join them after skiing across the nearby mountain, the group starts to settle in to their temporary home away from home. Before long, however, a strange visitor appears at their door with stories of an ancient evil that dwells in the forest, an evil stems from a cruel rogue battalion of Nazis who fled into the mountains at the ending of the war with all of the riches they could steal from the local townspeople. Of course, this is a horror movie so naturally no one believed him, and the group proceeds to have a merry old time, even discovering a wonderful chest under the floorboards filled with silver and gold trinkets (a la the kind the Nazis in the story took home with them…). Once night falls, the group is forced to fight for their very lives against a horde of Undead Ubermensch.
Okay, so I know it’s a horror movie so the standard for “good characters” is different than for your average movie. Under horror movie standards, I actually did like the characters for the most part. The writing isn’t amazing and the story isn’t anything revolutionary, but the film does a pretty respectable job keeping us somewhat interested in the characters by mixing up the traditional roles with what usually happens to those traditional roles in most horror movies. For, example, it’s the nerd (Jeppe Laursen) who ends up dooming himself by having sex with the hot chick (Jenny Skavlan), rather than the crass jock of the group (Stig Frode Herikson). I can’t give any more examples without spoiling anything, but I would like to note that I was a bit ticked off with how they handled Hanna (Charlotte Frogner), who I actually liked…
The film makes a strong effort to explain just how Nazi Zombies are a legitimate thing, and the explanation leans more towards and evil-based kind of zombie than a disease-based kind of Zombie. This means that the NaZombies (Dibs on Trademark) aren’t shambling, braindead husks but fully coordinated, knife-wielding wights under the command of “The Devil Himself”, Colonel Herzog. The only confusing side-effect of this is that we’re never really told whether or not a bite from a NaZombie will turn you into a NaZombie (although there is a hilarious bit of logic between two of the main characters over whether someone with Jewish Heritage would turn into a NaZombie). Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that if you discover a chest of Nazi gold in an isolated cabin, LEAVE THAT SHIT ALONE.
I’d like to quickly mention how much differently the film struck me between it’s night sequences and it’s day sequences. During the night sequences, I was legitimately scared in some scenes, and as a horror film this is where the movie really shines in it’s ability to create tension and then follow through. When the sun comes back up, the horror aspects aren’t quite as effective but it does allow the film to movie the kind of fun direction you’d expect (at one point a guy kills a NaZombie with a Hammer and Sickle, though my favorite has to be the Snowmobile-Mounted MG-42). I only wish that Dead Snow had devoted more time to these fun scenes and less to the attempts to legitimize the premise.
The Verdict: 7.5/10 Superior
+ Not nearly as predictable as most horror movies
+ Legitimately scary during some of the night-set scenes
+ A satisfying amount of creative NaZombie Carnage
+ Great Soundtrack
– Takes itself a bit too seriously at times