Review of Dead Snow

All you need to know about Dead Snow is in the press photo that accompanies this story: It is a movie about zombies who are also Nazis. If the idea of combining the tenets of National Socialism with an unyielding thirst for flesh and brains strikes you as silly, ridiculous or just plain dumb, read no further — this is not a film for you. If, on the other hand, it strikes you as awesome — if, say, you were one of the 100-plus people turned away at the door when Dead Snow played at the Calgary International Film Festival this year — then Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola’s second feature has plenty of what you’re looking for.

Dead Snow is unabashedly a B-movie, and it wears its B-movie influences proudly. The self-awareness hits hard and fast. When the cast begins their trek to a remote cabin for a weekend of alcohol and fornication, one of the characters, a film buff, begins listing movies in which groups of horny young people meet grizzly fates in similar situations, including the Evil Dead films. That same film buff is later seen wearing a Braindead T-shirt. Clearly, Wirkola knows his audience.

Listing the characters seems pointless, as they boil down to the usual genre archetypes. The weapons they use are far more interesting. There are the classics: a shotgun and a chainsaw make an appearance. But Wirkola isn’t content to stick with the standbys. Sledgehammers, sickles, Molotov cocktails and skidoo-mounted machine guns all get their due and even the snowy mountain landscape becomes a tool in the heroes’ quest for survival.

As for what distinguishes Nazi zombies from the regular type, aside from the costume, it’s hard to say. They’re faster than old-school Night of the Living Dead zombies but slower than new-fangled Dawn of the Dead zombies and they do seem to have a hierarchy of command, but there’s certainly no ideological bent to their rampage. Still, as far as esthetics go, it works. The contrast between the stark, snowy landscape and the dark hues and vivid reds of the Nazi uniforms (not to mention the copious amounts of blood) is plenty effective.

Dead Snow delivers exactly what it promises, nothing more and nothing less. The plot hits every beat you would expect and the characters are one dimensional, but there are Nazi zombies delivering reams of lovingly crafted gore. Sometimes, that’s enough.

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