Dead Snow (2009)

Dead Snow (2009)

Ein! Zwei! Die!

Eight medical students head into the snow-covered mountains of Norway to stay in a cabin for their Easter vacation. The group are visited by a mysterious stranger who warns them of a curse about a Nazi brigade that ran into the mountains with their stolen loot and were never seen again. The students then find a box of coins and gold hidden under the floorboards in the house. Naturally this peaks the interest of the Nazi soldiers, now flesh-eating zombies continually searching for their cursed Nazi gold and who want their stolen property back.


Nazi zombies. Come on, that’s enough to make me pee my pants in excitement. I’ve been a big stickler for the Nazi zombie sub-genre ever since watching the grossly underrated Shockwaves and when I first heard about this and saw the trailer a few months ago, I was bristling with anticipation. It’s the entire film sold in two words – you know exactly what you’re getting yourself in for. If you can stomach the subtitles (and a surprising amount of people are too lazy to watch and read them) then you’re in for an absolute treat! Dead Snow is a total throwback to the likes of The Evil Dead and Bad Taste and you can clearly see the director trying to channel the same sort of comedy-horror energy that both Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson harnessed for their genre classics. The results aren’t quite the triumph that one was hoping for but it’s still a riot of a film.

If there is an underlying problem to the film, it’s the fact that it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. The film sets off to be mean-spirited and has some truly unnerving moments which would have worked well if they’d continued along this theme of being all serious to the bitter end. The scene with the crazy, old Norwegian drifter investigating a noise outside his tent in the pitch black is superbly shot with literally only his flashlight illuminating the snowy terrain. Some of the daylight scenes look spectacular in the glistening Norwegian snow and it’s clear that these teenagers are miles from help.

Director Tommy Wirkola has also clearly seen Shockwaves as he features a scene with the zombies rising up from their snowy graves. The zombies also look striking, complete in authentic-looking German uniforms and sporting some pretty slick make-up effects as the charge across the landscape. Even the characters are well developed and likeable enough to warrant you supporting them and wanting to see them survive. But despite all of the build-up and some reasonable moments of tension and atmosphere to begin with, the gears are changed midway through the film and it’s pretty unexpected and a little unwarranted if you ask me. The film was doing well as a serious horror film up until this point.

The film then goes down the path of comical visual horror akin to The Evil Dead and Braindead. There’s plenty of wit from the dialogue including a character who has watched too many horror films (that cliché has overstayed it’s welcome I think), silly situations that the characters find themselves in (a girl hiding in a tree from a bunch of zombies is attacked by a crow trying to protect her eggs) and lots of sight gags involving plenty of blood and guts (the film gets messy). The gross-out quota is upped to the maximum and instead of genuinely being a little creeped out by the zombies, we just laugh at them and the characters as they fight to the death with chainsaws, hammers, sleds and such like with lots of severed limbs and free-flowing entrails from human and zombie alike. There are people dangling off the edge of cliffs using intestines as ropes. There’s MG42’s mounted onto snowmobiles. There’s a guy running around with no arm. And in probably the film’s best gore moment, some unlucky dude has his head ripped apart. It’s not really a case of ‘we’ve seen it before’ though as there are a few unique selling points here but the overall effect of turning the film into a cheese fest isn’t one you’ll be uncommon with.

How hard is it for horror makers to just stick to making decent horror flicks and not have to rely on the splatter and gross-out factor. And given the two word selling point – NAZI ZOMBIES! – it is slightly disappointing that they are just turned into such generic monsters. They could have been any type of zombies looking for treasure – pirates, gypsies, you name it. But given that the Nazis are widely recognised as the most evil bastards ever to walk the face of the Earth and liked to dabble in the occult, then the combination of the two is always a mouth-watering prospect. But here the zombies are just taken down easily with bullets, hammer shots to the head, etc. – certainly not the all-conquering war machine that we are usually led to believe.


Dead Snow is a difficult one to sum up. I wasn’t expecting the second half of the film to be as silly and cheesy as it was and it’s a bit of a shame because the first half promised a lot of proper chills and scares. But on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with the gore and splatter and it’s certainly entertaining enough. The Nazi zombie sub-genre lives on to fight another day…..


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