Review: DEAD SNOW

Posted by Peter Hall - July 9th 2009 @ 12:28 pm

Directed by Tommy Wirkola, 2009
Written by Tommy Wirkola, Stig Frode Henriksen


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.

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rss 13 comments
  1. July 9th, 2009 | 2:49 pm | #1

    The saddest thing in life is wasted potential…in a Nazi zombie film. I said the exact same thing when I saw it, the Nazzombs were more of a marketing ploy than an actual concept. So close, so close!

  2. adam charles
    July 9th, 2009 | 4:27 pm | #2

    Someone should make a film called Snowbies. People raise the dead by building snow men that eat flesh in order to regain their human form. The more they eat the more human they become, and they have until the end of winter before they melt and (re)die if they don’t eat enough. Could have interesting effects of the in-betweeners that aren’t fully snow men nor human yet.

  3. July 9th, 2009 | 4:28 pm | #3

    Holy fuck Adam, that is an AWESOME plot!

    That someone will some day be me.

    Though probably not.

  4. Barry
    July 9th, 2009 | 5:19 pm | #4

    Adam, go copyright that shit NOW!

  5. Brian
    July 9th, 2009 | 8:34 pm | #5

    I first read that as “Snowbabies.” Add babies into your synopsis somewhere and you might be on to something.

  6. Ripp
    July 9th, 2009 | 10:20 pm | #6

    DAMN! I had such high hopes for this film =/

    Guess I’ll just wait until Snowbies is out on bluray….

  7. adam charles
    July 10th, 2009 | 12:50 am | #7

    Well, Brian, of course there’s an intercourse scene SOMEWHERE in the script involving a snowbie and a real person. “Snowbabies” is the intended sequel, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    ……………

    Hahahaa.

    …………..
    Sorry, I just got an image of a baby snow man being born while covered in blood and fetal matter so that it comes out looking like a chunky sno-cone. Yum.

  8. Brian
    July 10th, 2009 | 7:34 am | #8

    I like your style Mr. Charles.

  9. R.J. Sayer
    July 10th, 2009 | 9:28 am | #9

    thanks for the shout-out.

    but you didn’t mention the sex scene in the outhouse.

    i don’t know whether i’m pleasantly surprised, or supremely disappointed…

  10. Donjo
    July 20th, 2009 | 5:36 am | #10

    A) The outhouse sex scene was great – particularly when she took his “wiping” hand and starts sucking his fingers! Gross/cool.

    B) When that chick is hiding up in the tree from the zombies and the crow starts giving her away, and she starts getting into it with the crow, I was laughing out loud. That is one of the top 10 most original scenes I’ve seen anywhere for a long time.

    C) When the Nazi leader summons his army with “ARISE”, I just fell out. That was freaking awesome.

    There are a lot of very clever parts here and a while the first part of the movie, as Peter Hall, points out, flat out sucks, the second have does deliver more then enough to make up for it.

    I give this 7 out of 10.

  11. Al
    October 9th, 2009 | 7:29 am | #11

    @Adam

    have you ever seen the 1996 movie, Jack Frost?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116671/

    Just saying, that’s all.

  12. adam charles
    October 9th, 2009 | 9:51 am | #12

    Al-

    No, but I knew/know of it.

  13. Adam
    February 21st, 2011 | 5:43 pm | #13

    I saw this movie as a homage to Sam Raimi. In that capacity, it’s a great movie! It was just supposed to be fun and bring all the fun things that Raimi brings to his films.

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