Dead Snow (2009)

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“A ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students, as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies.” — IMDb

I know what you’re thinking — Nazi zombies? For real? Trust me, I was just as skeptical as you. Hell, I was skeptical for MOST OF THE MOVIE. The director, Tommy Wirkola, said in an interview: “”When we were about to sit down and write the actual script, we started thinking ‘What is more evil than a zombie’? A Nazi-zombie!” Fair enough.

The premise of the film is similar to that of the draugr – a Scandinavian folkloric undead greedily protecting its (often stolen) treasures. In this case, the Nazi zombies were on a mission to find the valuables they had stolen from the locals back when they occupied the area during World War II. I mean, I get it, when something I stole from innocent people is missing I kill and eat people, too.

The main characters of the movie are, honestly, all fairly weak characters. You don’t really get too attached to anyone which ultimately makes it hard to feel much of anything except excitement about “yay zombies!” when they start getting killed. And the pacing is so damn slow — it takes HALF THE FREAKING MOVIE before anyone in the main group gets killed. I have a hard time shutting off movies even when I’m bored, so I stuck it out… and I’m glad I did, because this movie is easily the biggest turnaround I’ve ever experienced.

The last 30 minutes or so are pretty much nonstop action, violence, and some pretty intense (and very well-done) gore. The movie up until this point has very little of ANY of the above (aside from a pretty amazing head splitting shortly before). The zombies are somewhat unique in the sense that they are stealthy, armed, and FAST as hell. These are not your slow, stumbling zombies… they will fuck you up QUICK.

The last 30 minutes also really FINALLY showcase the fairly masterful combination of horror and dark comedy. Before that I think it is lost in just casual dialogue between the characters while they’re in the cabin… but once it’s a full-on battle scene, there’s some pretty brilliant lines and hilariously gory moments (one of the dudes holding onto a Nazi zombies intestines as he flies over a snowy cliff comes to mind).

Zombies to me on their own aren’t super scary, even when they ARE fast as hell and wielding bayonets. But this movie really plays on the hopelessness of sheer numbers. They keep on battling and killing off what they think is the whole group… and then another group pops up. They keep on coming. And then the leader of the group — who has been very menacingly skulking around the whole time — stands on a bank and thunders “Arise!” as hundreds of them rise up out of the snow. I got chills.

Basically, if I judged this movie on its entirety, it wouldn’t rank very high with me… but judging it just on the REAL action, the last 30 minutes, it’s a solid zombie movie in my eyes. Gore for days, great special effects, creative and personalized killings, truly funny one-liners, and some moments where you can’t help but put your hands up to your face while saying “is he really… NO! NO!”. Awesome.

Rating: 7.5/10 | Director: Tommy Wirkola | Starring: Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Charlotte Frogner, Lasse Valdal, Evy Kasseth Røsten, Jeppe Beck Laursen, Jenny Skavlan, Ane Dahl Torp, Bjørn Sundquist, Ørjan Gamst

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