The Plot: A group of fun loving students find their way to a remote cabin in the woods, atop a snowy mountain. Everyone is there to have fun and are on their way to doing just that, when a mysterious older man (with a serious attitude problem) shows up and warns them of the previous occupants of this snowy mountainside. During the nazi occupation of World War II, the regime used these mountains as their headquarters where they stashed all of the gold and valuables stolen from the homes of the city-folk. The kids just blow it off and go back to their partying ways, but when they find a box full of treasures under the floorboards of this cabin – they begin to think otherwise. Their plan is to sellf the gold and pay off their student loans, but what they don’t realize is that the previous occupants – they’re still around, and they want their gold. A zombie holocaust (PUN!) soon ensues, with these college students having to fight to save their lives.
The Review: The great thing about being a long-term horror geek is simply watching the different communities and “scenes” pop up time and again. In the mid to late nineties the German’s had their splatter scene (and the US had an impossible amount of Scream clones), at the beginning of this decade the Japanese took over with their ghost stories about little girls with long hair and right now I’d say we have the US with what has been dubiously titled “torture porn” and then there are the Europeans who are all busy tackling genre cinema with a back to basics approach. Although very similar to this supposed “torture porn” genre in terms of onscreen violence, the French and all of Europe are instead focusing on slashers and other genre staples. Even though I can respect this movement and they’re all turning out to be time well spent, I do not find myself with a great amount of excitement for this new wave of genre cinema. It’s simply that each film seems to be more or less the same thing in many ways. The blood always seems incredibly dark (although plentiful) and very few genre conventions seem to be broken. Dead Snow turns out to be a different change of pace from the likes of Frontier’s, however it still suffers from some of the predictability that said film suffered from. However, seeing the Norweigan’s tackle the horror comedy genre does turn out to be quite the treat.
When one of the leading men in your film is wearing a Braindead t-shirt, you know the filmmakers are horror fans. Such is the case with Dead Snow, a film seemingly made by classic horror geeks who looked to in turn pay homage to the filmmakers who inspired them but at the same time create a new undead foe. Nazi zombies aren’t an entirely new offspring of the subgenre, Zombie Lake already broke ground on that topic many years ago. The only thing is that Zombie Lake is infamously terrible and Dead Snow is not, and thus has the opportunity to take this great idea and run with it. Running with it is exactly what they do too, by creating a crafty zombie flick with a ton of blood and gore that becomes more of a horror-comedy as the film goes along. The zombies in the film are the real stars here, simply because they break through the mold of genre predictability. These zombies, much like those in the remake of Dawn of the Dead, are of the fast moving caliber. They can run, use tools, think and are even able to speak at some points. This will either turn off the horror geeks out there or perhaps incite some interest. I personally saw it as one of the better things about the film. These zombies are at least providing something I have rarely seen in the subgenre and being that I know these filmmakers are more than likely big genre fans themselves, it’s not simply coming from someone who is ill-informed.
The zombies are easier to destroy than the average however and their being awakened from the dead is more in tune with the classical “zombie” reference point of being a curse rather than taking a cue from Romero. I can imagine that a lot of the inspiration for the film comes from Return of the Living Dead which broke as much ground in the zombie genre when it was first released, especially when you see how silly the film gets as it rolls on. Zombies are slammed into trees while trying to jump on the back of our heroes, our heroes hang off of cliffs by the intestines of other zombies and all sorts of shenanigans are had. All of this sounds good and well if you’re looking for a zombie flick that turns the genre on its head, but unfortunately at the same time it still remains as predictable as any other film in the genre. Dead Snow takes on the “everybody will perish” modus operandi instead of the “last female survivor”, so essentially once the bodies start stacking up they never stop and we’re never really allowed to get to know the characters as well as we should. Sure, I know the medical student who is afraid of blood has to overcome his own fears, but where are the moments that tie me to that character? It’s a great story arch, but it would have been nice to have a little more buildup before the bodies started stacking up. As it is, it’s as if the only purpose of the film is to present some truly outlandish and bloody death scenes. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s the number one reason to see Dead Snow – but as horror fans, who have ultimately seen just about everything, I don’t think it’s unfair to hope for something more from a film that has been receiving a fair amount of hype.
What is Dead Snow really? Well, it’s a fun zombie romp with a lot of really great gore FX work in the latter half. People are ripped into pieces, chainsaws shred through zombie flesh and people die in all sorts of nasty ways without even a moment’s warning. However, for me, that doesn’t warrant calling it a classic. The Japanese zombie splatter flick Junk shared a lot of the same attributes, but in the end, that’s all it had going for it was the fun gore. I don’t want to rate the film too harshly, as it is an overall fun ride – but I certainly found myself hoping for more. If you’re looking solely for great zombie action, with nazi zombies to boot, you can hardly do better – but I won’t convince myself it’s a brilliant film. I give it a three out of five, which makes it above average. Check it out, but I recommend renting first when the opportunity arises.