Dead Snow

Year: 2009
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Jeppe Beck Laursen, Charlotte Frogner, Jenny Skavlan, Vegar Hoel
Written by Rhys Wortham

What we have here is pretty much your typical zombie movie. A small group of teens go wandering into the mountains, towards an old abandoned cabin they’ve rented for Easter vacation. When they realise one of their group, who arranged to meet them there, is missing, her fiancée goes searching for her. He bids his farewells and the rest of the gang shack up in the cabin for the night. During their first night they encounter an old hitchhiker who warns them of the mountain’s curse, Oh yeah, and there’s Nazis, obviously.

This is actually a pretty funny movie, not least because it spent half the time making fun of itself, and the horror genre, in an overtly camp way. Hell, it even maintains this campness all the way through the film, to match some of the dark humour. In one scene, they have the typical fat, comic-relief joking about their situation to the point where it almost tells you where they’re all going to end up, paying tribute to the slasher flicks of the 1980s. They even take a few hilariously dark turns with the “pretty boy” hero. If I were to try and describe the plot, I would say it feels like someone took an old Stephen King novel and took a cartoon-ish dump on it. Oddly, I mean that in the best way possible; it plays to curses and zombies, but does it in such a fun and strange way that it doesn’t actually ruin anything.

However, there isn’t much to say about this picture. The whole plot of the film is revealed in the first 30 minutes of the movie and then neatly wrapped up in the end with subtle gore. So a whole hour of the film basically comes down to: “Oh look zombies! Let’s run the other way! And if that doesn’t work, kill them.” Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some great one-liners and some really unique zombie death scenes. There are also a few bits of character development, but other than that, you’ll struggle to find a tangible plot.

To a certain extent I can’t really judge the acting abilities on show, mostly due to the fact that the actors were either running and screaming half the time, or they were quite simply useless. Yes, they all did a great job at building suspense, but not much else. Turgåer (Bjørn Sundquist) was most effective at building a sense of true terror in the beginning of the movie and helped move the tone along from the happy-go-lucky “everybody’s gonna get laid” party atmosphere. The blistering, bloody scenes helped escalate that sense of terror, and so did some of the scenes shot in the dark. But it was the beautiful, open tundra which most instilled a genuine sense of remote hopelessness.

The use of theatrical humour helped mellow out the horror element, to the point where it was almost non-existent. Admittedly, the dark humour was great, but at times hurt the direction of the movie and overall feel of some of the scenes, which left me wondering if they were trying to squeeze out a laugh during a horrible scene or ease the feeling on a gory horror scene. There were only a few scenes that were so over the top that it made me wonder how certain characters lived/died under such ridiculous circumstances. Since these scenes ruined the horror element, it kinda makes me feel that this movie is more like an action/ adventure suspense movie than anything else.

It’s fun, but it’s a traditional zombie movie; people die and there’s LOTS of blood. I can see a sequel being made – I don’t see why they would – but the same can be said for plenty of sequels. It’s really fun to watch, doesn’t play favourites, and it’s great to see another nation enter the horror genre besides the USA and Japan. However it has almost no rewatch value and any tension is short lived, because if you’ve seen some of the older zombie films, you’ll probably know what’s going to happen. Regardless, I hope to see more projects from this crew in the future.