Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dead Snow (2009)

Finally made the time to sit down and watch Dead Snow, a Norwegian film about Nazi zombies, tonight. I've seen a lot of movies in my day, so I wouldn't put it past someone to make a serious movie about Nazi zombies, but obviously the first thing you think when the plot synopsis mentions "Nazi zombies", is, "are you serious?" But actually, the movie does start out pretty seriously, setting the stage for what looks to be a fairly standard horror flick in the teen slasher vein (albeit from a Norwegian perspective).

But the movie's self-awareness quickly becomes evident in the form of a character who is a movie buff, with some early explicit references to horror classics like Friday the 13th and Evil Dead, and who wears a Braindead (a.k.a. Peter Jackson's Dead Alive) t-shirt, all of which this movie makes copious homages too, and which informs the tongue-in-cheek brand of black humor that infests the latter half of the movie - for better or worse (probably better, since I think this movie would ultimately have been less successful as a serious movie than simply as a fun one).

Before things get too silly, the Harbinger - as The Cabin in the Woods would undoubtedly label him - appears unexpectedly at the cabin in the woods (actually a snowy mountainscape), and gives one of the better performances of his ilk (among the myriad slasher films in existence), with a history lesson that plays out more like an around-the-campfire ghost story and that sets the scene for the coming appearance of the frozen reanimated Nazi corpses. After they show up, the film ramps up the scares and the gore, but also the straight-faced and situational humor. Meanwhile, the blood keeps getting poured on in good Braindead fashion, and many of the characters face humorously ironic ordeals and demises, that might elicit a chuckle but will definitely induce a grimace (or four).

It's hard to say how I actually feel about this film, given my preference for the serious over the humorous (despite my tempered appreciation for the Braindead-style over-the-top approach). And let's be honest, this film had what was probably the least erotic sex scene in a slasher film I've probably seen in...ever. The humorous appropriation of Nazi imagery doesn't offend me in the least, but it doesn't particularly get me excited, either. The locations, however, were suitably isolated and really very beautiful, offering something unique in place of the typical wooded lake kind of setting, even if it meant less scantily clad coeds. But, purely as a zombie film, Dead Snow is a bit too frantic, and lacks the shambling feel of a classic zombie movie. It's really more of a monster-in-the-woods slasher kind of flick, especially of the tongue-in-cheek, self-aware variety. Whether that's a plus or a minus is up to you.

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