Dead Snow (Død Snø)

Title: Dead Snow (Død Snø)
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Horror/Comedy
Language: Norwegian (Eng. Subs)

Ein! Zwei! Die!

As a huge horror genre fan(and self-confessed zombie aficionado), it was with some reservation that I approached this Norwegian entry into the horror comedy sweepstakes. The reasons for this were twofold. First of all, over the last decade, the industry has been flooded with zombie pictures (indeed, horror/comedy), and even I was suffering from a little fatigue with the sub-genre. Secondly, I knew very little of the Norwegian film scene, and was wary of a film shot in this little known industry. Well, forget all of that because this film is a stunning success, a fitting addition into the cream of zombie film lore.

The plot involves a ski trip by several medical students which is interrupted by unspeakable evil, Nazi zombies!!!! The film begins without promise, rounding the bases in terms of horror cliché. We have the standard mix of youthful characters, each representing a certain sub-set of stereotypical traits. We have the usual playful shenanigans as each character is introduced. Also on display are the common early red herring scares, the crazy old man with warnings of dread, and character’s insistence to venture off alone, even when it is becoming readily apparent that all is not as it seems.

Beyond these conventions however, one is also struck by the visual beauty of the cinematography (mountainous Norway is gorgeous beyond description), a considerable feat considering the meager budget of the picture. The realistic acting of the superb young cast is also a plus. This is Dead Snow’s ace in the hole actually, as the cast and mountainous terrain combine to forge believable characters in a believable setting, characters we the viewer are actually interested in seeing the fates of. Instead of patiently awaiting the demise of each doomed soul (or indeed, like in some horror films, anxiously anticipating such demise), the viewer actually cares about what happens to whom. A particular standout in the young cast is Vegar Hoel as “Martin”, the medical student with an aversion for blood ( boy does he get a crash course in desensitization), who’s facial expressions alone provide many of the films laugh out loud moments.

Blood is also a star of the movie(natch), as when the zombies attack, the scenes are never less than splatteriffic. Torrents of arterial spray coat the Norwegian countryside, as the student’s battle for their lives against the hordes of undead. Entrails are also on evidence in abundance, a level unseen since the wonderful Braindead of so many years ago. This is a particularly important touchstone actually, as the film is very much in the spirit of Peter Jackson’s classic zombie fest, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 being another comparable film. The gore of this film falls somewhere between the two, sometimes outrageous, sometimes understated, but always effective. It must also be said that the effects are old school, and not digital. This is a major plus, as digital effects always seem to create a bit of a disconnect for me in most films. This comparison to the aforementioned films goes beyond the effects it must be said. The humor and tone of some of the scenes instantly remind the viewer of Jackson and Raimi’s landmark pictures, director Tommy Wirkola wearing his influences on his proverbial sleeve. For this, I commend him.

Combined with an excellent all Norwegian soundtrack( metal, punk, folk, pop), and enhanced by the clever script, which balances horror elements, homage, and humor to great effect, Wirkola has added another essential flick to the zombie milieu. I recommend this soon to be world wide cult classic instantly to any fan of the genre. Only the most jaded and cranky will not be highly entertained.


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