Dead Snow is a 2009 zombie splatterfest from Norway. The twist is that director Tommy Wirkola and company threw in Nazi zombies. That’s way more annoying than regular zombies and not at all a coattails situation stemming from the success of video game Call of Duty. To see what we thought is to listen to our podcast below. To read what one of us thought is to read on. There are spoilers here so beware, but I’m going to go on record and make the rare delcaration that they don’t matter much with this one. Go for it.
Reviewed by: Jake
Some Norwegian med students go on spring break by taking a trip to one of their families’ cabins in the mountains. They’re there to do typical college stuff. Drink. Fuck. Pull each other around in tire tubes via snowmobile. You know the drill.
They arrive and get after it for a bit before having a stranger pay them a visit one night. He tells them the story of Nazi occupation in a nearby town during WWII and how the villagers eventually staged an uprising and chased the Nazis into the hills where they certainly froze to death. The Nazis had stolen treasure with them at the time of their demise, and they are still around to protect the treasure now as zombies. Then he just sort of leaves… Next thing we know, Mr. ominous story stranger man is camping in the mountains and he is attacked and killed by a Nazi zombie.
The students try to get the party back in full swing but it’s cut short when the zombies show up. A couple of them are killed almost immediately. They split up and a few attempt to go get help while the others create a distraction and stand ground to fight the zombies. They are picked off one-by-one until the lone survivor realizes that the zombies are attacking because they’re trying to protect the treasure. He attempts to return it but realizes at the end of the movie that he accidentally still has a piece of it still on his person. He’s then killed.
What the Movie Does Right
I’m going to get this out there right now, I like this movie the least of anyone in our operation, so there’s that. The primary thing that the movie gets right is the battle segment of the film that takes up the majority of the final act. This sequence is incredibly fun and splattery, so if dudes fighting Nazi zombies with hand tools sounds like your cup of tea, then there’s already reason enough to check this out. It’s pretty obvious that this part of the film was the core pitch when it came to getting it made, so they really needed to nail it and luckily they did.
Overall, the splatter effects in the flick are what you’d hope for and expect. It’s not a huge budget movie and you can tell at times but the splatstick that owns the core of the movie doesn’t need to have crazy realism. The bread and butter here are the blend of violence and humor, and the effects along with some comedy finds the mark enough times to help make the core of the film enjoyable.
Also, kudos for taking the Nazi Zombies concept from the video game world and blending that into a Norwegian “draug” story. That’s a weird, unique thing and I appreciate that it happened.
What the Movie Does Wrong
I really didn’t care for anything that the movie built around the core fight sequence from a plot standpoint. I mentioned that I like how it took the draug concept and mashed it up with zombies who are Nazis, but the actual experience of moving through the plot in this was pretty taxing for me. The college spring break story feels kind of like one of the road trip movies or one of those ski comedies from the 90s.
The stupidity of the core concept works when you explain it but when I sat down to watch it all unfold I really had a hard time waiting for the kids to come in contact with the zombies. I didn’t care about any of them and the movie didn’t seem to care that much about making me connect with th, yet an exorbitant amount of time was spent with nothing really happening except jokes that really didn’t land for me. When you introduce the zombies there are some truly funny moments but frankly there was irreparable damage done to my immersion by that point in the film. This is pretty much right at 90 minutes but it felt a lot longer to me.
There are also some bad effects with regard to some of the zombie makeup. Some of them look good while in a few instances the makeup just doesn’t look believable. Because the movie shows it can look good, it’s more jarring when it doesn’t. This also goes for some of the sets. There is a particular ice cave set that has one of those Ed Woodian type moments where you can see shit moving around when the characters are in contact with the set. Not a great experience.
Story: 2.5 - The very core here is zombies attacking kids. We’ve seen this. The twist is the Nazi part but that happened because of the popularity of the Call of Duty video games so credit is minimal. The surrounding spring break plot is also wearing on the nerves. I did enjoy the Norwegian draug quality to the zombies, but it’s not enough to prop this category up.
World-Building / Immersion: 2 - The characters are annoying and it really destroyed all of my immersion. The overall world is pretty much only existent through an exposition dump from an otherwise pointless meat puppet of a character so that’s to say there isn’t much world here.
Scare-Factor: 3 - This is primarily for the splatter. This isn’t scary and it’s not even trying to be. It’s a zombie-eviseraction movie a la Brain Dead.
Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 4.5 - some of the effects here look good but there is also quite a bit of inconsistency and as mentioned, some of the props/sets work was wack.
Overall: 3.5 - You’ll either pick up what this is putting down tonally, or you really won’t. I didn’t. The other guys did. Mileage will vary.