Quickie Horror Review: Dead Snow (dir. by Tommy Wirkola)

One thing about the zombie monster is that they’re pretty much a blank slate and anyone with an idea on how to use them can add their own spin to this undead staple in horror. Some have made zombies be undead Templar knights who hunted by sound. Some have even been made in combination with Egyptian mummies. There has even been zombies underwater fighting and trying to feed on sharks. In 2009, Norwegian Tommy Wirkola filmmaker took the zombie and combined it with that other icon of evil in entertainment, the Nazi. What he was able to create with this combo is the horror film Dead Snow.

The film begins with a lone woman running frantically through the snows somewhere in the mountain fjords of Norway with unknown figures chasing her. Like most horror films which begins like this her fate looks to be predetermined and how she finally buys it shows the audience that this is not going to be the usual zombie film as undead figures tear her apart and devour her while wearing the typical Nazi regalia. This gory start segues into the unfortunate group who will end up having to experience and deal with the sudden problem of WWII-era Nazis who had occupied Norway during the war and had ended up being buried (and presumed killed by the Norwegians near the end of the war) for decades in the snows of the Norwegian mountainside.

There’s really nothing too special about the seven students who decided to spend their Easter vacationing in the mountain cabin owned by the young woman killed earlier in the film. They’re not one-dimensional characters, but they’re also not the smartest tools in the shed as they make the usual mistakes young people make while staying at an isolated cabin high up in the mountain with a reputation for being haunted and cursed. The film’s director also co-wrote this script with screenwriter Stig Frode Henriksen and one could almost sense they were trying to emulate the group dynamics of the group in Edgar Wright’s instant zombie-comedy classic Shaun of the Dead. While Wirkola and Henriksen never reach the same level of creativity in their characters the actors playing them do a good enough job that we root for them to survive the siege of the suddenly hungry Nazi zombies outside their cabin.

Dead Snow does have something which raises the film from being dull and predictable into something very entertaining and thrilling through it’s many gory set-pieces. These scenes as the survivors try to fight their way and escape the Nazi zombies (or are they zombie Nazis) doesn’t skimp on the blood and gore. Wirkola may have known that the story of his film was very thin on plot with charactersa step or two above cardboard so decided to just let the grue fly. It’s here that Dead Snow suddenly becomes jet-fueled rollercoaster ride as bodies (both living and undead) get mutilated, decapitated, blasted, shot-up and everything in-between. The final stand-off with the final survivors and an increasing number of Nazi zombies makes this film worth watching.

Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow doesn’t bring too many new things to the zombie genre (Nazi zombies having been done decades earlier in films such as Shock Waves and Oasis of the Zombies), but he does add some dark humor and a healthy dose of over-the-top zombie mayhem that makes the film quite entertaining despite it’s flaws. Plus, how can one go wrong with picking something to watch that has Nazi zombies gallivanting their bloody way through Norwegian mountainsides with a hankering for Norwegian students.