Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dead Snow - 4/5

At this point in the genre, its getting harder and harder to create an original zombie film. Although it can be done (see "Pontypool" for example), its almost like its a game. How much do you stay with the field and not stray too far to disenfranchise fans while trying to give the genre its own spin to make your movie memorable? Well, Norway's own "Dead Snow" does quite the job of taking a rather simple buy effective concept and giving it what the fans want.

A group of college students decide to head up to their friend's mountain cabin for some rest and relaxation away from their studies to have fun. Too bad their cabin rests on some haunted fucking Nazi burial grounds and they've disturbed their rest, as least that's what a random mountain man whom shows up at their door tells them. Suddenly their week of isolation and fun is turning into a death trap and horror far too quickly for their sanity. Its up to these young people to set aside their insecurities and put an end to this Nazi zombie horde before they find themselves in some dead snow.

Even the film admits in its first act that its not going to be the most original film out there. 'How many horror movies start with students going to stay at a cabin' says one of the characters. Its the self awareness of "Dead Snow" that makes it work so well. It never takes itself all that seriously and its hard not to have a bloody good time watching as the shit hits the fan and the Nazi zombies start to come out of their snowy graves. Some stellar directorial shots, amazing special effect moments, and a thread of dark humor all make "Dead Snow" worth the viewing. Not to mention that in the third act when it starts to really get moving, it goes balls out over the top ala "Dead Alive" style with zombies popping up everywhere and gore amongst gore within clever kills delight.

It must be said that "Dead Snow" owes a lot to Sam Raimi and his "Evil Dead" films. The influence is worn straight on the collar as bright at the sun on the snow and in fact, pretty much says it. Hell, the "Evil Dead" films are outright mentioned in the dialogue and a handful of scenes are torn straight from those great films. A few characters arm themselves with tools from a nearby shed that's pure homage to the "Evil Dead" and the character Martin even hacks his own hand off with a chainsaw. Its almost too much like the "Evil Dead" movies for its own good and sometimes comes off as a rip-off rather than a solid homage too. Director Wirkola definitely wears his influences on his film (Romero and Raimi should be mostly proud though) and despite some blatant stolen moments, it does carry its own torch more often than not using its cool environment to the maximum.

If one is looking for a fun zombie gore filled time than "Dead Snow" is where it's at. Although sometimes its influences come off too much in the forefront of the film, it still has fun with it and runs with its concept nicely. Wirkola has some visual flair to his film (very much like Raimi did with his career start) and makes up for lots of the weaker character work and some of the plot hole moments. It is self aware of what it is and that, in the end, sells the whole film nicely as a great addition to any zombie fan's collection.

BONUS RANT: Now what exactly brought these Nazi zombies to life? Were they always there just terrorizing the neighborhood? Than how did our mysterious and well monologued mountain man survive so long? If it was the gold that they were after all along, then why did they start killing before it was discovered? Even the "Evil Dead" movies has motivation for the arise of their terrible forces, but "Dead Snow" lacks this and it bugged me the entire movie. Why has the Third Reich risen again?! WHY?! 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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