DEAD SNOW could have been great. DEAD SNOW should have been great. Sadly all the couldas and the shouldas and the good intentions don’t change the final product.
Half of it is a good horror, the other half plagued by pesky things like script and acting and direction and, well, anything involved in putting together a motion picture. Jump into the Nazi zombie slayings at DEAD SNOW’s mid point and you’ll have a blast. Watching it in full spoils the experience with groans and eye rolls and half-bored off-screen glances.
I’m no sour puss. I like my fair share of mindless entertainment, I don’t think I need to flash any credentials in that regard, and I’m not expecting SCHNIDLER’S LIST, but when you go as bare bones concept as teens at snow lodge versus zombies, I require a little more than zombie’s tackling people in the snow for forty minutes. The last act makes up for this dearth, however, kicking off with a commendable head splitting gag and rolling through with a few dismemberments and one fantastic throat prosthetic. It’s not enough to distract from how flatline mediocre the rest of the picture is, though. I am not a gore hound. I need more than a few solid bits of ingenuity on a budget to satisfy.
Maybe I’m just becoming jaded. Loving a movie about Nazi zombies should be a default for a horror fan, right? The problem with DEAD SNOW is that the undead chompers in question might as well not even be Nazis. The only thing that defines them as soldiers of the Third Reich are their uniforms and a super lame origin story told by the cliched local who warns them thar city folk (yep, they have a bumpkin equivalent even in the snow caps of Norway) of the legend of the gold greedy Nazis. That last bit sets up the plot, which (as RJ Sayer pointed out) is an almost identical convention to GARFIELD’S HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE, just swap out ghost pirates looking for gold with Nazi zombies looking for gold and a fat cat for some dumb coeds. Wirkola and Henriksen’s script doesn’t even have the heart to build a revenge story a la Carpenter’s THE FOG. Nope, just Nazis who want some gold. Fascinating.
For anyone who doesn’t care about plot or performances, DEAD SNOW will eventually please once it gets past its tackling phase. The gore does deliver particularly well for what must have been a limited budget. As mentioned there are several memorable f/x gags that’ll justify the whole runtime. Once the action starts Wirkola wastes little time between dispatching co-eds. Considering IFC still has DEAD SNOW available OnDemand for little money upfront, I’m half tempted to recommend watching it with the fast forward button held down until you see a brain fall out of a skull. If you sit through the whole thing, you’re liable to feel your brain fall out before that wonderful bit even happens.
I’m not a man of refined tastes, but from time to time I need more. I need reason and purpose and DEAD SNOW has no higher logic to its villains than they look good on a poster, which renders it just another zombie movie. Maybe if I didn’t have a good template for undead Nazis in the back of my head I’d of liked DEAD SNOW more, but I’ve seen the badass OUTPOST (which I could have sworn I’d reviewed, but can now not find- It’s good, see it.) so settling for boring zombies that just happen to have swastikas on their arms isn’t in the cards for me.