Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DEAD SNOW (2009) Movie Review

DEAD SNOW (2009)

Review by Tom Parnell

When it comes to monsters, Nazi zombies may not be a new idea, but they are up near the top of the horror food chain, along with ghost ninja pirates. It would be far too easy for a lazy director to rely on this epitome of horror squared to carry the whole film, while simply ignoring the basics of character development, or even just decent dialogue.

DEAD SNOW however, with its snappy script, great direction and post ironic nods to its predecessors, happily avoids falling into this trap. This is a highly enjoyable movie which can have you laughing and wincing in the same moment, without relying on one gimmick to keep the audience enthralled.

Norwegian director and co-writer Tommy Wirkola’s only previous feature film, KILL BULJO, is a bizarre Scandinavian parody of Quentin Tarantino’s KILL BILL, with murdered reindeer, racist police officers and a pastiche of the famous DELIVERANCE ‘squeal like a pig’ scene. Although it may not seem like the most natural step to go from there to a full-blown zombie horror, much of the humour is carried through into DEAD SNOW and you get the feeling that, like a smirking version of Tarantino, Wirkola is a man who likes his movies.

DEAD SNOW has many of the classic cabin horror elements; a group of youngsters heading out for a ski holiday and staying in a remote shack, something evil lurking in the woods and a mysterious stranger with a tale of horror. What it doesn’t do is treat these as anything more than the clich├ęs we all know they are.

For one of the first times since SCREAM the main characters actually exist in a universe where horror films are available; they know the rules (there is an excellent scene involving what to do if you’re bitten by a zombie) and they aren’t about to go quietly into the night. There are plenty of laughs and nods to films such as EVIL DEAD, but I still felt myself genuinely caring about some of the characters and willing them to survive.

Wirkola does a great job of creating tension when it’s needed and going for full-on blood-spattered snow when the time comes. You may have been wondering why the fact that the walking dead are Nazis makes any difference, but the addition of SS uniforms does add a genuine extra element of sinisterism to the zombie hoard and the high quality of the zombie make-up perfectly complements this.

In all, DEAD SNOW is funny, exciting, beautifully visual and genuinely terrifying in parts and with a the tagline “Ein, Zwei, Die” who could resist?


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