Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dead Snow [movie review]

* Limited North American theatrical release in June (released in its native Norway in January); DVD release date TBA

Two words best sum up Dead Snow: Nazi zombies. I saw a still picture from the film of said undead on the forum I download a lot of my movies from and was immediately intrigued, but then I found out it was a Norwegian film with subtitles, which was enough to scare this uncultured North American away. Coincidentally, a couple of days later my brother told me he had seen it and how great it was so I went back, got it and proceeded to be knocked over by the ridiculous fun it had to offer.

Dead Snow (Død Snø) was directed and co-written by Tommy Wirkola and who it stars probably doesn’t matter as I probably already lost you at “Tommy Wirkola”. The plot is fairly pedestrian as far as zombie/horror movies go: a group of young people head out to a remote area for a few days of drinking, sex and relaxation and end up fighting for their lives to avoid becoming zombie chow. The twist here is that the zombies are Nazis who were thought to have perished after fleeing from uprising locals into the Norwegian Alps during World War II. Brilliant. I mean, could there be a more unsympathetic figure to watch get the crap beat out of than a zombie in full SS gear?

The movie does an excellent job of building up suspense – it’s 40 minutes in before it becomes evident exactly what the twentysomethings are up against (assuming you knew nothing about the movie before viewing) and the timing feels just about perfect as the film shifts gears from a tense thriller into a blood splattered campfest (with a particular predilection for gore involving intestines). The intentionally bad humour is nicely interspersed as well, without seeming overdone.

The white landscape provides the perfect backdrop for the director to take full visual advantage of the gallons of blood being spilled. Most horror movies work better in the dark but with this movie it’s the complete opposite. The snow also adds a nice element during the chase scenes as both the living and undead struggle to navigate the terrain.

I’m not a major zombie or horror movie buff but I can safely say that Dead Snow ranks as the best zombie movie I’ve ever seen. Don’t be deterred by the subtitles as this one is destined for cult classic status.

Rating: 9/10