There are plenty of movies that speak to the human soul. They dig deep and teach you a little something about the world around you and yourself. On the other hand, there are movies like Dead Snow, which only teach you what your guts might look like if they were splattered out over fresh-fallen powder.
Dead Snow should be a novelty for American horror fans. First, it’s Norwegian and the film’s snowy, mountainous landscape looks about as alien as its pale-skinned, blue-eyed cast. Second, there are enough nods to popular horror franchises such as The Evil Dead to appeal to diehard horror heads without coming off as pandering. Third, there’s enough gore and cheesy one-liners to make even the most steely of stomach feel a bit queasy. The kicker, however, the bit that should make Dead Snow an instant classic, is that the evil force that has swooped down upon a gaggle of unsuspecting young vacationers is a group of Nazi zombies. I know. It’s brilliant.
There’s few celluloid pleasures more satisfying than watching a righteous hero vanquish a horde of swastika-clad Nazi douchebags. They’re evil fucktards, and I’m sure most of you reading this (hopefully all of you) realize that. It’s nice to have a bad guy we can all agree deserves a good butt whooping.
Watching zombies getting their heads blown off or decapitated is the only thing I find just as, if not more so, cathartic. I don’t know why I enjoy seeing the undead get treated in such a manner. No zombie has ever done me any harm. I just hate them. All of them. I guess I’m racist against zombies.
The makers of Dead Snow are geniuses, because they were able to combine the two. Now, every bad guy who gets his head curb-stomped by a revved up Norwegian chick with dreadlocks isn’t just a zombie that deserves whatever’s coming to it, but a Nazi to boot. It’s two for one—a value in this down economy.
The only finesse involved in Dead Snow is in its humor. There are some sly cultural, historical and, of course, horror cinema references that may go unnoticed if you aren’t paying attention (probably because you’re doubled over puking into the nearest trash basket). The rest of the movie is pretty much just blunt force trauma. A plot is introduced when an old man happens upon our heroes’ cabin and tells a longwinded story about the “evil in the mountains” and blah blah blah. That’s all a bunch of hokum. And it’s boring. Even one of the characters seems to be falling asleep while the old man is rambling on. We want blood! And there’s plenty to be had. In an hour and a half, humans and Nazi zombies are slashed, mauled, chainsawed, and torn to shreds; beaten with axes, tree limbs, sledgehammers and even snowmobiles. White snow and even whiter people are stained with gooey blood and various innards—mostly intestines, but also some eye guts for good measure. Only the people who brought us black metal could have conjured up this darkly humorous gem.
There’s only one thing that bothered me, and this is a pretty big spoiler. In the end, the Nazi zombies more or less prevail. I’ll sometimes pull for the bad guy in horror movies. It’s hard not to pump a fist when Jason Voorhees uses his machete to julienne some dipshit jock. But only assholes want zombies to win, let alone Nazi zombies. That’s the ultimate triumph of death over life, evil over good. It makes all the fun and gory violence Dead Snow portrays seem futile and pointless. Could it be that its filmmakers were trying to make a point? God, I hope not.