Dead Snow

12/27/2019 06:24

Film: Dead Snow (Død snø)

Year: 2009

Director: Tommy Wirkola

Writer: Tommy Wirkola and Stig Frode Henriksen

Starring: Jeppe Beck Laursen, Charlotte Frogner and Jenny Skavlan

 

Review:

This was a film that I heard about and the premise was really interesting to me. Just from initial thoughts on it, it seemed like taking a film I used to watch from my childhood in Shockwaves and just throwing it into a snowy environment. I wasn’t too far on this concept though. The synopsis is a ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies.

We start this off with a woman running from something. It is dark, but we can see that she is in the woods and there’s snow all around her. Something then sets upon her as she screams.

It then shifts to two vehicles, one carrying the men and the other the women. The men are Martin (Vegar Hoel), Roy (Stig Frode Henrisksen), Vegard (Lasse Valdal) and Erlend (Jeppe Beck Laursen). Erlend is my guy as he is the movie expert and really a fan of horror movies as well. The women are Hanna (Charlotte Frogner), Liv (Evy Kasseth Røsten) and Chris (Jenny Skavlan). Hanna is seeing Martin and Chris is a new girl. They direct her toward Erlend. Vegard is also dating Sara (Ane Dahl Torp) who is going to meet them at the cabin.

They arrive to a place where they park. From there, Vegard heads up to the cabin on a snowmobile to get the place ready for them while the rest walk. This is where Erlend and Chris hit it off. This group makes it to the cabin and kick off their vacation by partying. Their night takes turn when Turgåer (Bjørn Sundquist) shows up. They are hospitable toward him and give him a cup of coffee. He warns them to be careful, before telling them the story of the area. It goes back to World War II where a group of Nazis held up in this area. They were led by Oberest Herzog (Ørjan Gamst). They were killed there and supposedly still haunt the area.

It gets even worse when Chris disappears and they can’t find her. They’re then attacked by Nazi Zombies. This makes Vegard worried about Sara as this becomes a fight for survival against these undead monsters.

Now as I’ve said, this is one that I heard about, but thought it might be a bit cheesy. I’ve heard podcasts talk about it and from what I heard, they tend to enjoy it. I definitely fall into that camp having now checked this out. It is really an interesting film if I’m going to be honest and I think that there’s some really good writing here.

The first I’ve alluded to a bit and it involves Erlend. It is brought up when they about horror films that take place in a setting like this. Friday the 13th gets thrown out there and it is interesting there as Turgåer is kind of the Crazy Ralph character filling in the back-story. This is also kind of a slasher in that the characters get picked off as well. Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are also brought up, which this kind of is similar in plot with a supernatural aspect and they’re again picked off one by one. Props to Chris to show that she is interested in Erlend by stating that she felt it is more like April Fool’s Day with the deep dive for non-horror fans. I just really dig the parallels.

Something else I’ve already brought up, I love the idea of the Nazi zombies here. It is fairly common knowledge that the Nazis were into the occult and that Hitler really wanted to find ways to ensure he won the war. I think that creates some good mythology here that Oberest Herzog found a way to bring his men back. Not only that, they’re hoarding gold which is something else that the Nazis did as well.

Now these zombies aren’t our traditional ones. If anything, I feel like this film is similar to Lucio Fulci’s Zombie in that they’re not brought back by a virus or anything like that. There’s a supernatural aspect and I think it is pretty consistent from the get when they show up. I like that they can be killed, but there’s a really cool thing that happens at the climax here.

Also going with the writing, there are things about characters that are brought up as well. I’m actually going to shift this to the acting as well, but we have Martin who is afraid of blood. Hoel does really well at portraying this and he has some good character development into what he is by the end. Henrisksen I thought was a bit annoying, but that’s the character he is supposed to be. He makes some jokes that really just aren’t funny. Frogner establishes that she is claustrophobic and the idea of avalanches is brought up. Valdel, Røsten, Laursen, Skavlan and Torp are all solid as well as distinct, which is good for a film like this. I think Sundquist works as the harbinger character. Gamst and the rest of the Nazi zombies I thought also did a really good job here as well.

As for the pacing of this, I think that it was good. We have a runtime around an hour and half so it doesn’t take long to get into it and doesn’t outstay its welcome. I did find it a bit odd that it transitions to day which I wasn’t expecting. The second half of the action actually happens then which I thought worked. I do like that we get back-story through a couple different ways. That was pretty solid if I’m honest. I also liked how it ended as it wasn’t what I was expecting. It again though, came back to something we saw earlier.

The effects were really good as well. They actually looked to be done mostly practical which surprised me. There’s a head being ripped apart as well as guts being pulled out. I did notice a moment though of CGI with some of the blood. It is seen more at a distance though so I don’t have any issues. The blood dries on people’s faces, but I think this is smart as it is cold out. I think that actually brings a bit of realism if I’m honest. I will say that this is part comedy though, so some of the deaths are a bit outrageous. Not enough to ruin this, but something that does hurt it slightly for me.

The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack. I love that this film earlier on starts with a classic piece as it set the tone here. The rest of the score fit for what was needed. It doesn’t necessarily stand out or a soundtrack I would regularly listen to, but for what was needed here I thought it was on point.

Now with that said, I really dug this film. It really combines some concepts I dig together with Nazis, zombies and the like. There’s some really good writing here which I appreciate. The acting is pretty solid and we have some distinct characters as well. It is paced in a way where it never gets boring so that is nice. The effects and looks of the zombies are good. The soundtrack fits for what was needed. The only slight I would have is that this is part comedy so that hurts it just slightly. I still really like this film and would say that overall this is a good movie. I will warn you, this is from Norway so I had to watch it with subtitles. If that’s an issue, I would definitely avoid it.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10