Movie Review: Dead Snow

(2009)
Directed by Tommy Wirkola
Starring Charlotte Frogner, Ørjan Gamst, Stig Frode Henriksen, Vegar Hoel, Jeppe Laursen, Evy Kasseth, Evy Kasseth Røsten, Jenny Skavian, Bjørn Sundquist

If Peter Jackson was to remake Shock Waves (1977), but set it in the snowy mountains, then you would have Dead Snow. After getting a lot of internet hype, we had the chance to see this new Norwegian zombie film in the theater and just loved it. For someone to take a sub-genre that has been done to . . . death (sorry, couldn’t help it), co-writer and director Tommy Wirkola pulled out all the stops and gives us one bloody entertainingly good movie.

A group of medical students travel up to the mountains for a little holiday of sledding, riding around on snow mobiles, and of course, drinking and sex. Their destination is a cabin owned by one of their friends who left ahead of them. Once they get there, she’s nowhere to be found, or maybe hasn’t made it there. Later in the evening during their partying, a wandering local pays them a visit. He tells them the story of some German soldiers who were occupying the area in WWII, who were eventually chased into the mountains by the villagers, where they froze to death. It just happens to be the exact same area where the very cabin they are sitting in now. Rumor has it, he quietly tells them, that something has brought the soldiers back to life, and they are not happy.

The other co-writer is Stig Frode Henriksen, is also one of the main actors in the cast. What Wirkola and Henriksen give us is a combination of different types of zombie films. The first part is slower with a lot more atmosphere, with plenty of creepy shots of the darkened and snowy landscapes, with strange sounds and noises coming from the surroundings. This sort of setting is very different than what you’d expect for a zombie movie, which makes it an interesting change, but they also are still able to bring the creepiness to it. But once the zombies start to appear, we move into Peter Jackson territory with some outrageous and over-the-top gore, done with a lot of slapstick style humor. Did we mention how bloody the film is? There are plenty of sequences here where you will think “nope .. never thought I’d see that onscreen.”

Major kudos has to be given to this cast. Not only are they working in a very cold and unforgiving environment, but before the running time is over, they are all pretty much covered in the red stuff, which had to make it even more difficult to work in those conditions. Keeping in character, keeping a straight face amongst the crazy situations, all in that bidder temperatures, it had to have taken a bunch of real troopers to make their way through it.  Ørjan Gamst, who plays the leader of the undead troops, really brings to (undead) life to this new villain, who is an instant villain for the famous monster book. Without a lot to do but stand there looking menacing, he makes every scene he is in count. Gamst also worked as a storyboard artist for the film too! Vegar Hoel plays Martin, our future doctor who is afraid of the site of blood, quickly learns to get over that phobia doing battle with Nazi zombies.

The humor here is not stupid or forced like some films try to do and fail, but it comes from the outrageous situations and just how crazy they are. Best viewed with a bunch of like-minded friends, there will be plenty of cheers and moans alike when you go through plenty of decapitations, limbs being pulled apart, heads ripped open, battles with chainsaws, sledgehammers, and even machine gun equipped snowmobiles. Add that with the gallons and gallons of the red stuff flying about, and many feet of intestines being pulled, snapped, and ripped.

The bottom line is that Dead Snow is just a fun horror movie, something so refreshing for a very old sub-genre that is given new life to it and making it a damn good time. Something that is sadly missing from most of the films coming from Hollywood.

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