Dir:Tommy Wirkola. Norway. 2008. 91mins.
Fun, funny and unabashedly bloody, the Norwegian zombie movie Dead Snow is a lively tongue-in-cheek celebration of every horror flick in which attractive young people go out to the middle of nowhere and are then attacked by ungodly creatures. With a sly sense of humour and a seemingly endless supply of fake blood and guts at his disposal, director and co-writer Tommy Wirkola turns Norway’s desolate snowy mountains into fertile territory for an all-in-good-fun battle between humans and the Nazi undead.
Dead Snow takes its cue from classic horror-comedies like the Evil Dead series, and the film could attract audiences who love their gross-outs and their laughs in equal measure. Premiering, appropriately, during Sundance’s Park City at Midnight section, Dead Snow will cater to midnight-movie fans while scaring away those who get queasy at the sight of carnage.
A group of co-ed medical students go on holiday to Oksfjord, a picturesque snowy oasis that promises plenty of skiing and relaxing away from civilization. Unfortunately, these vacationers aren’t aware that the area is plagued by a legion of evil Nazis who were chased into the nearby mountains at the end of World War II, now returning to get their revenge as ruthless, hungry zombies.
Director Tommy Wirkola understands that he’s making a full-throttled homage to horror conventions - in fact, one of the medical students (a film geek) points out how much their excursion into the woods is similar to the set-up of Friday The 13th and the first two Evil Dead movies. There are more nods to famous zombie movies, such as the work of George Romero, but Wirkola isn’t just referencing these revered films in the hopes that he can ride their coattails. Instead, Dead Snow borrows from its forerunners a palpable glee for inspired mayhem, especially in the film’s second half when the students engage in several memorable altercations with the Nazi zombie army.
Because Dead Snow mixes laughs with bloodshed, there is always the risk that Wirkola will spend too much time mocking conventions rather than delivering an appropriately gruesome horror movie in his own right. Thankfully, after a bit of a slow start to establish the characters and the Nazi threat, Dead Snow produces its funniest moments during its sickest scenes. It would be unfair to give away the better gags, but let it be said that the amount of uses that intestines have in this film is truly uproarious.
In a movie where character takes a backseat to gore, performances may not seem important, but Dead Snow demonstrates that a well-cast zombie-horror movie has its rewards. Despite the film’s humorous undertones, Wirkola doesn’t allow his players to fall into self-indulgent mugging. As the students’ de-facto leader, Lasse Valdal gives a rugged, heroic performance, while Charlotte Frogner is tough and yet still feminine as one of the group’s resourceful women.
Technical credits are impressive - despite the obviously low-budget effects, the results are neither amateurish nor jokey. After some early obligatory scare scenes involving zombies popping up in windows, Wirkola and cinematographer Matthew Weston do a nice job staging their horror sequences so that the jolts don’t come when expected.
Miho Film AS
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Stig Frode Henriksen
Stig Frode Henriksen
Jeppe Beck Laursen