Saturday, 16 June 2012

Rare Imports #4: Dead Snow (2009) Review

Dead Snow is a 2009 Norwegian horror comedy. Directed by Tommy Wirkola starring Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henrikson and Charlotte Frogner. The film also incorporates elements of the zombie and nazisploitation sub-genres.

The film follows several young Norwegians as they take a vacation to a log cabin in the snowy countryside. Things soon take a turn for the worse as the obligatory crazy old local shows up and warns the group that back in World War II the area was subjected to prolonged torture and oppression of the locals by a Nazi brigade led by Standartenfuhrer Herzog. After the forces raided all of the locals gold and valuables, the townsfolk staged an uprising and chased the Nazis into the mountains where they (along with the gold) still remain. Unfortunately for our group the gold was buried under the log cabin and Nazi zombies begin to descend upon them with very gory results, this leads to a climactic battle between our heroes (armed with chainsaws) fending off droves of Nazi soldiers in attempt to escape the mountainous bloodbath.

Dead Snow is a rip-roaring homage to zom-com classics such as the Evil Dead trilogy and Peter Jackson's Braindead (one of the characters actually wears a Braindead t shirt) but also carves its own mark onto the zombie and Nazi sub genres. The desolate snowy setting freshens things up and makes a nice change from the typical cabin in the woods format and also ties in to the Norwegian culture and history. The zombies also tie in nicely with elements of Norse mythology, a Draugr is an undead creature who typically guards wealth or buried treasure and this incorporation of folklore is a really nice touch and something that I'm sure Norwegian audiences could appreciate a little bit more.

As with many of the horror comedy classics the balance here is spot on. The Norwegian black humour coupled with the really quite impressive gore is great fun and nothing is lost through the subtitles, an element I also really liked was the occasional political satire perfectly captured during the final battle sequence where one of the characters manages to acquire a hammer and sickle and briefly crosses the two before decapitating a Nazi. There's also no attempts to overexplain the plot, we don't  know why the Nazis are still alive (or undead) all we know is that they want their gold and our heroes stand in their way allowing the maximum fun and mayhem to unfold without worrying about justifying it to the audience.

Dead Snow is really great fun and combines horror and gore with the Norwegian black humour (which was seen again recently in the excellent Troll Hunter). Some people might find it a bit too silly and if you're unfamiliar with the nazisploitation sub-genre then it may not be the movie for you but for my money it's the best zom-com since Shaun of the Dead (2004) and makes me want to know an awful lot more about Norwegian cinema.

4 Stars ****

Did you likeDead Snow? Would you like to see more Nazi zombie movies?


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