I’m probably going to irritate a lot of people with this review since almost everything I’d heard about this movie was good. Which was part of why I watched it, only to be left laughing at it’s absurdity and poorly constructed zombies. Without further ado, Dead Snow.
It starts off promising with a dark chase in the woods and a zombie kill before the title is even shown on screen – a typical start, perhaps, but one that typically does a good job of drawing in the audience. After that, however, it drops off in interest immensely, becoming your typical teenage slasher movie where a group of friends goes up to a cabin with no cell phone reception (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this before…). In fact, the movie goes so far as to bring up this point as the characters discuss movies in which this occurs in what I can only assume is an attempt to gain trust with the viewer since they can poke fun at themselves, or something.
After a long wait involving a lot of almost-jumpy moments and dirty jokes, you finally get to see some action. Unfortunately, this starts 45 minutes into the movie at a point where you’re practically begging the zombies to hurry and start slaughtering people. Oh, wait, I forgot, that wait was important. It allowed a random hiker in the mountains to stop by the cabin (which, for the record, is 45 minutes off the road) for coffee and tell the legend of the World War Two German Soldiers (effectively Nazis, but I don’t think they ever refer to them as such) who terrorized the town until they were basically driven out by the townsfolk.
At any rate, since one of their friends never made it to the cabin, Martin goes looking for her only to find their hiker/camper friend dead and disemboweled in his tent before falling into a cave which is apparently inhabited by the zombies. He winds up fighting a few and hanging off the edge of a cliff by intestines. Somehow he survives and steals a machine gun before heading back to the cabin to help his friends.
Meanwhile, Erlend has found a box of gold and treasures under the floor boards where they’re keeping the beer (presumably to cool it or something?) and so they get drunk and play around with it. Though as every body knows, gold stolen by the bad guys is almost always sure to bring them knocking on your door. Sure enough, after slutting her way into the outhouse, the first of our medical students (did I forget to mention that they are all conveniently med students, because they are) gets killed. They go looking for her, but fail to locate her anywhere before zombies start attacking the cabin. Fortunately, Erlend is a movie nerd (in fact when he found the gold he quoted Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with “Fortune and glory, kid.”) and he recognizes what the monsters are and informs everybody that they should not be bitten. What he should have warned them, instead, was that the only way to kill a zombie is to sever the head or destroy the brain, but I’ll get back to that later.
This goes on for a long, boring while until Erlend is killed with, my personal squirm inducing move, eye gouging before being torn to pieces. Then the four characters that are left decide they should head for the car and try to get help so they split up, letting the girls go on the run and the men staying behind as bait while they make their getaway. Fights ensue, one of them burns down the house by failing at throwing a molotov cocktail, and Martin shows up with his gun and they devastate the zombies with a chain saw, a hammer, sickle and a snow mobile. Somewhere in the midst of this, Roy gets bitten and Martin gets killed. As a result of his bite (thanks to the warning from Erlend) Roy takes his arm off from just about the elbow and cauterizes it with a fire started in the stomach of a dead zombie. More fighting starts shortly after until Roy gets the brilliant idea that maybe the zombies are just after the treasure, which he willingly gives up before crawling away. Unfortunately a piece of gold was in his pocket, so the zombie general follows him back to the car before we cut to black.
Also, I should mention that Roy’s girlfriend Hanna fell off a cliff, survived, killed zombies by stomping on water ballo- I mean their heads, and got killed by approaching her boyfriend while he was mid-massacre (genius, right?).
Now, it should be remembered that since this movie is in Norwegian and you have to read subtitles, it could be considered distracting. However, I’ve watched plenty of foreign movies that needed to be viewed with subtitles and I handle them fine, knowing the plot and details without heavy distraction to read the text. Also, it could be said that something was lost in translation, however, my biggest problems are with the action you see and not the dialogue you read (which I’m fairly certain is appropriately translated). So let’s start with my biggest issue: the zombies.
Zombies are the living dead whose main purpose in life is to feed, a goal which they most easily accomplish by hunting in packs. The reason for zombies varies from film to film, but in the case of Nazi zombies it usually has to deal with some kind of curse or hidden evil. They don’t use weapons, and most of the damage they cause is from grabbing you and biting you until they’ve devoured enough of you to either turn you into one of them or kill you. The way to kill them is to sever the head entirely or destroy the brain. That’s it. Anything else and they’ll still be able to go after you.
Okay, now that we all know what a zombie is, I feel like I can move onto my irritation. The first real kill we see from the zombies involves the camper fellow who stops by the cabin, later to be found in his tent by Martin. In the scene, you see his throat get slit. This is not a zombie indicator so much as it is a sign that you should lock your door to keep the serial killer at bay. Not only does he slit his throat, but his death is accomplished by punching him in the face. I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a zombie kill someone with their fists. So there’s that whole method of killing thing.
Then, of course, there is the fact that they take their time coming up with plans, including an elaborate ambush at the end. They carefully sift through the organs of one of the med students before either leaving her to die or eating her, since they never show what happens there. I mean, really, zombies don’t think. Their brains have little to no function so they don’t plan out attacks – they just see food and want it, simple.
Another issue is the motivation for their attack. Presumably the evil which awoke them was the power of their gold trinkets being discovered, opened and trifled with. Unfortunately, their only motivation at that point is to retrieve their gold and wreak vengeance on those who messed with it – which sounds an awful lot like Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl if you ask me. Honestly I just kept hoping Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush would show up and make it more interesting.
Last, the effects. I’m sure the movie had a huge, multi-billion dollar budget. I’m also sure that whatever the actual cost was, 90% of it was spent on corn syrup and red dye which was used in over abundance in this movie. Blood was everywhere, unconvincingly I might add, and it wasn’t making it a better movie by raising the gore factor. It just made it more laughable. Then there was that zombie heart beat thing. Again, zombies are dead, implying that their hearts are no longer beating. Whatever. The point is, too much unrealistic blood.
Overall, the movie was just boring. I’m all for camp and cheesy laughs at the expense of a movie, but this wasn’t even that. I was bored and wanted it to be over before we’d even hit the half way mark. Visually it isn’t that interesting and not a single one of the characters is someone that I feel sympathy for, which is saying something since they all die in the end. I was disappointed because the movie had been built up to me by people whose opinions I normally regard well, but in the end, this one just didn’t cut it. I feel like I must have missed a big piece of the puzzle that made this a good movie or something, but I don’t know where it was if it exists at all. Overall rating? 2.5 out of 5.