MPI // 2009 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // February 12th, 2010
Ein! Zwei! Die!
You got zombies in my Nazi movie! You got Nazis in my zombie movie! It's two terrible tastes that go great together. From the frosty country of Norway comes Dead Snow!
A group of medical students decide to spend the Easter holiday in a cabin high up in the Norwegian Alps; however, as a strange traveler will cryptically inform them, this snow-covered forest isn't safe.
Not long after finding a small box of gold coins buried beneath the floorboards, the chummy med students make a bloody discovery: they've awakened the frosty vengeance of the Third Reich!
Dead Snow is an awesome blitzkrieg to the zed-word sub genre. Sure there are a other independent, Nazi zombie films out there (Shock Waves, Zombie Lake, etc.), but this Norwegian treat adds a bit of humor to the festering pile.
The film, co-written and directed by Tommy Wirkola (Kill Buljo), is a riff on the classic horror staple: a group of horny college kids go out for a weekend camping trip only to find (insert monster) waiting for them. Sometimes it's a guy with a hockey mask. Other times, it's Sam Raimi shoving a camera in your face. The last thing you'd expect in the scenic mountains of Øksfjord is a bunch of frost bitten Nazis. As is customary, the group is slowly eliminated one-by-one in the most gruesome ways imaginable.
Dead Snow is a zombie movie with a great sense of humor, and also with an eye for the genre's clichés and history -- in that sense, it's not unlike Shaun of the Dead. The cast does a great job of hamming it up, playing into their stereotypes, and cracking self-referential one liners when the timing's just right. There's also plenty of references to classics like Night of the Living Dead and Evil Dead (including a couple of those quick "preparation" montages Raimi practically invented).
Wirkola, and co-writer Stig Frode Henriksen (who also plays Roy in the film), crafted an almost perfect by-the-numbers zombie film that still manages to surprise. Most of the surprises, of course, come from absurdly creative death scenes -- who knew intestines were so durable and skulls so pliable? The film builds wonderfully to an outrageous final 30 minutes of nothing but action as two characters take on the undead Col. Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) and his gang of flesh-eating Brown Shirts. These zombies aren't your normal footdraggers either, they run, punch, strategize, and use binoculars!
Being that the film is from Norway, you have the option of watching it with English subtitles or dubbed -- the English dub does add a little extra bit of humor, for obvious reasons. Dead Snow was made on a modest budget, but it's never terribly apparent (unless Wirkola wants it that way). The film looks good, and the transfer is generally solid. There is a fair amount of noise in the black levels of the night scenes, and sometimes the snow is so bright that the yellow subtitles become unreadable. The slight digital effects all blend in seamlessly, however, and the camerawork is consistently great.
This two-disc edition comes packed with a fair amount of supplements on the extra disc, the bulk of which focus on behind-the-scenes action. Most of the featurettes follow the classier documentary style of behind-the-scenes footage, as opposed to the slick promotional stuff that a bigger studio might put out there. "Behind Dead Snow," "Special Make-Up Effects of Dead Snow," and "The Sounds of Dead Snow" all offer brief looks at this indie production's creative process. There are also two longer videos, Madness in the North and Madness in the West, which are far more entertaining chronicles of the filmmaking process as well as the cast's trip to the Sundance Film Festival. Lastly, there are a handful of trailers, outtakes, and visual FX demos rounding out a pretty robust disc. The only downside to all of the featurettes is that they're only subtitled in bright yellow lettering, meaning that you'll be struggling to understand what everyone's saying outside amidst the blinding, white snow.
Zombie films claw their way out of the soil each year, like the perennial Red Hibiscus, but there was perhaps no better decade for the undead like the last. Dead Snow, like Zombieland, is a hilarious take on the genre's biggest cliches. It's a film with the perfect group of monsters (because, really, you don't get any more evil than Nazi zombies), and an equally great group of med students for them to devour.
If you're a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
Review content copyright © 2010 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Norwegian)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R