Review: Dead Snow (Død snø) [2009]

Dir. Tommy Wirkola

Cast:  Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henrikse, Charlotte Frogner, Lasse Valdal

Dead Snow is a film that every self-respecting horror fan should yearn desperately to love, with its miniscule budget, genre referencing, Norwegian roots and it's poetic, snow-blasted mountain locations. Oh, and did I forget to mention... Nazi Zombies. That's right, it's been a long time since we had Nazi Zombies on screen with the turgid Zombie Lake, and sadly Dead Snow doesn't really rescue the genre, but it's not for want of trying.

On a fervently anticipated Easter vacation trip to a remote mountain cabin, a cadre of student friends are out to enjoy a weekend of beer, snow, and maybe even a little bit of "sexy-time". Instead, the group meets a stranger who cautions them of a deadly curse concerning a black-hearted Nazi division, who died in the mountains 60 years prior, after the locals grew weary of the enemy stealing their gold. Ignoring this fantastical tale, the troupe returns to carousing, soon finding a box of old gold coins hidden beneath the cabin floorboards. Naturally, this piques the interest of some undead Nazis, who awaken from their chilly graves to recover their golden legacy from the petrified students.

With an informed nod at Evil Dead, Bad Taste and even some of the Hammer "Dracula" movies, director Tommy Wirkola has earnestly set out to create a bloody and ferocious horror/comedy in the mold of his evident muses, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson and their ilk. Wirkola (famous for Kill Buljo, the Norwegian counterfeit Kill Bill) is obviously ardent about his gore, and his exuberance for the subject matter alone, carries Dead Snow along at a thumping pace. However, his scripting and characterizations leave a lot to be desired, his protagonists despairingly fall, too effortlessly, into unequivocal genre cliché or post-modern horror irony re. Kevin Williamson. Which leaves the viewer feeling that Wirkola is playing it all a little too safe, to appeal to contemporaneous genre audiences, or more likely the distributors, which leaves Dead Snow a zombie's fingernail away from practicable augustness.

After the initial character set-up, Dead Snow releases the Nazi zombie legion en masse. This means for the audience we receive lashings of spurting blood, limb chopping and copious beheadings. This gore soaked ballet of giblets is astonishing, with the zombies and students put through a gauntlet of corporeal trauma only depleting on impact when some lamentable CGI is utilized to augment the physical SFX. Tie this river of red to the idyllic snowscapes, a Norwegian black metal soundtrack, and some genre defying daylight set-pieces, and you have all that any self-respecting gore hound should ever crave.

But the question still remains, does the sum of it's parts equal a satiating whole? I am earnestly sad to say, for me the answer is an unequivocal no...  Dead Snow wants desperately to be Bad Taste with Nazis, unfortunately, Wirkola simply doesn’t (yet) have the comedic skill of Peter Jackson, nor the outright intrepidity of a young Sam Raimi. It leaves Dead Snow as an exquisite looking movie, with some majestic set-pieces and some pretty damn astonishing SFX, considering all the budgetary restraints, but sadly this reviewer walked away feeling like it could have been so much more.

Verdict: Watch with friends (ones who get the genre references) and beer.

0 Response to Review: Dead Snow (Død snø) [2009]

Post a Comment