Tuesday, September 29, 2009

(Evil) Dead Snow: Ein Zwei Die!

So I saw Dead Snow last Friday when it finally opened here in Toronto. I'd been semi-looking forward to the film for months since I'd first heard about it on AintItCool News, and it mostly lived up to my expectations.

The movie is the zombie equivalent of a Michael Bay flick, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The film barely implies a plot to tie its events together "coherently," and all the gags appeal to the lowest common denominator of humour. Unlike the Evil Dead series, which very clearly inspired this Norwegian zombie-romp, Dead Snow fails to push any new ground. It is instead a euphoric celebration of b-grade zombie, cabin-in-the-woods horror comedy, and it is very successful at accomplishing its goals.

I mean, nothing I'm saying here can't be gleamed from a basic idea of the premise: Nazi zombies. It's an over the top concept and the follow through fits perfectly. If you don't know what I mean then just look at the tagline pun on the poster above! You don't find yourself asking why there's suddenly a machine gun mounted to the snowmobile, you simply laugh and enjoy when it's used to kill the Nazi zombies. The characters actually share the audience's semi-incredulous attitude towards the events, they just don't see the humour as much as we do. They seem to see some sort of horror.

On that note, this is not a horror movie by any stretch of the imagination. There are things that happen suddenly and loudly that may startle some viewers, but nothing in the film is scary. From the very first scene when an obviously rubber Nazi head pops into frame for the first time, it's clear that beyond the odd "jump scare" there will be not anything worth shutting your eyes over. Oh, unless you're so squeamish that the overuse of intestines as ropes makes you uncomfortable. I found it to be more ridiculous than gross, which is clearly the intention, but some people have weak stomachs. This movie is probably not for them.

Overall I liked Dead Snow. As I said, it's stupid, loud, gross, ridiculous, etc., but you've got to expect that. It's fucking Nazi zombies. This isn't breaking new ground in the genre, and in fact in many ways it's as much an indulgence as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The reason I don't hate this film like I hated that book is because in this case the filmmakers are just having a good time and inviting us to have it with them. They don't purport to intelligence or originality, they wear their inspirations on their sleeve as badges of honour. They don't treat us like fools, goading us along for the ride with their zombies, they acknowledge that we're attracted to their film specifically by zombies. The Nazi zombies.

Dead Snow is nothing special, but it's fun. It'll be remembered the same way every other competently made Evil Dead rip-off is remembered, if only for "the crow scene." Check it out.


  1. Yeah, I'm with you on the whole "more ridiculous than gross" tack. Especially when they're hanging off a cliff, holding on to the one zombie's trialing guts (My review's somewhere in my archives, btw.)

    Although I think a lot of the reaction would depend on the audience. This movie benefits A LOT from a savvy crowd and a late night screening.

  2. I liked your review, and responded.

    Audiences definitely play a huge role for something like this. I saw it with a group that laughed out loud and enjoyed the whole thing. It reminded me of when I saw Grindhouse, which was potentially the most fun I've ever had in a cinema. Everyone just got totally into it and made the screening more than the movie. Dead Snow would thrive on that kind of atmosphere