Combining two of the scariest concepts known to human civilisation (Nazism and zombies), Dead Snow (2009, dir. Tommy Wirkola) is a Norwegian horror film that isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself. A group of spirited young people travel to a cabin in the mountains in order to spend their holiday skiing in the beautiful snow, drinking, and having fun. Little do they know that there are some zombie Nazis running around hunting down their lost treasure, and their happy holiday is about to turn sour.
Dead Snow is a lot of fun, but it has a bunch of problems too. I’ll start with the good stuff. Dead Snow is actually really funny. I’ve always found Norwegian films to have a sharp sense of humour, and I was not disappointed with this one in that respect. The film is genuinely entertaining, even though it doesn’t contribute much to the overall horror movie genre apart from its unique focus on Nazis as zombies. I liked the way the story incorporated World War 2 history into a film that would be painfully generic otherwise.
On to the problems. As aforementioned, the core of the film is generic, apart from the unique twist of the zombies being Nazis. The characters are quite shallow and we don’t learn much about them beyond broad personality brushstrokes, so there is no real unique point of view. The worst moment of the film contains a really gross sex scene where hygiene is a legitimate concern. Additionally, there was one moment toward the end, gearing up to the final battle with the Nazi zombies, that was clearly “inspired” by Shaun of the Dead (2004). I watched this one with a group of people, and everyone said, “That’s ripped from Shaun of the Dead.” when it happened. I’m usually enthusiastic about homages in film but this one was a bit on the nose.
Also, the writers of Dead Snow seem to have a real fixation on intestine-pulling. Not that I’m complaining. But intestines were important to the plot many times. Which leads me to ponder the question: are you really watching a zombie film or TV show if you don’t see any intestines?
Even though the film is mildly underwhelming and really silly, it’s not a bad film to watch if you’re in the mood for blood and guts. The concept is unique, and the humour is pretty solid. I like watching films about World War 2 history, and this was certainly like nothing I’d seen before. Still, beyond the entertaining concept and effects that hold it together, Dead Snow is just okay. Watch it for fun, but don’t hold any high expectations.
Watch the trailer here (no English subtitles though, unfortunately).