dead snow | tommy wirkola | stig frode henriksen | jeppe beck laursen | charlotte frogner | jenny skavlan | comedy | norway | zombie | zombies | nazi | vacation | lasse valdal | evy kasseth rosten | vegar hoel | ane dahl torp | bjorn sundquist | orjan gamst
Film: Dead Snow (Død snø)
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writer: Tommy Wirkola and Stig Frode Henriksen
Starring: Jeppe Beck Laursen, Charlotte Frogner and Jenny Skavlan
This was a film that when I heard about it, the premise was interesting to me. Just from first thoughts on it, it seemed like taking a film I used to watch from my childhood in Shockwaves and just throwing it into a snowy environment. I wasn’t too far off on this concept though. I’ve now given it a second viewing as Fright Club showed this at the Gateway Film Center, so I got to see it on film. The synopsis is a ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies.
We start this off with a woman running from something. It is dark, but we can see that she is in the woods and there’s snow all around her. Something then sets upon her as she screams.
It then shifts to two vehicles, one carrying the men and the other the women. The men are Martin (Vegar Hoel), Roy (Stig Frode Henrisksen), Vegard (Lasse Valdal) and Erlend (Jeppe Beck Laursen). Erlend is my guy as he is the movie expert and a fan of horror movies as well. The women are Hanna (Charlotte Frogner), Liv (Evy Kasseth Røsten) and Chris (Jenny Skavlan). Hanna is seeing Martin and Chris is a new girl. They direct her toward Roy or Erlend, who are the only single guys. Vegard is also dating Sara (Ane Dahl Torp) who is going to meet them at the cabin.
They arrive where they’re parking. From there, Vegard heads up to the cabin on a snowmobile to get the place ready for them while the rest walk. This is where Erlend and Chris hit it off. This group makes it to the cabin and kick off their vacation by partying. Their night takes turn when Turgåer (Bjørn Sundquist) shows up. They are hospitable toward him and give him a cup of coffee. He warns them to be careful, before telling them the story of the area. It goes back to World War II where a group of Nazis held up here. They were led by Oberest Herzog (Ørjan Gamst). They were brutal as they torture, killed and supposedly still haunt the area.
It gets even worse when Chris disappears. Despite their efforts in searching for her, they find no trace. That is until Hanna sees her head outside the window. They’re then attacked by Nazi Zombies. This makes Vegard worried about Sara as this becomes a fight for survival against these undead monsters.
Now as I’ve said, this is one that I heard about, but thought it might be cheesy. I’ve heard podcasts talk about it and from what I heard; they tend to enjoy it. I fall into that camp having now checked this out. It is an interesting film if I’m going to be honest and I think that there’s some solid writing here to along with it.
The first bit that I’ve alluded to involves Erlend. As they’re walking to the cabin, he asks about films that take place in a setting like this. Friday the 13th gets thrown out there and it is interesting there as Turgåer is kind of the Crazy Ralph character filling in the back-story. This is also in a way, a slasher in that the characters get picked off as well. Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are also brought up, which this kind of is similar in plot with a supernatural aspect and they’re again picked off one by one. Props to Chris to show that she is interested in Erlend by saying that she felt it is more like April Fool’s Day with the deep dive for non-horror fans. I just dig the parallels with the different movies referenced here. After rewatching this, Erlend is wearing a Dead Alive or Braindead shirt. It is fitting for what happens.
Another aspect I love is the idea of the Nazi zombies. It is common knowledge that the Nazis were into the occult and that Hitler really wanted to find ways to ensure he won the war. I think that creates some good mythology here that Oberest Herzog found a way to bring his men back. Not only that, but they’re also hoarding gold which is something else that the Nazis did as well. It doesn’t delve too much in the Nazis in general, just more helping to establish fast that this unit was full of horrible people that not even death could stop.
Now these zombies aren’t our traditional ones. If anything, I feel like this film is like Zombie in that they’re not brought back by a virus or anything like that. There’s a supernatural aspect and I think it is consistent from the beginning to when they show up to attack the cabin. I like that they can be killed or at least they seem to be, but there’s a cool thing that happens at the climax here.
There is also good writing here. We get things about characters that are brought up and it plays out later. I’m going to shift this to the acting as well, but we have Martin who is afraid of blood. Hoel does well at portraying this and he has some good character development into what he is by the end. Henrisksen I thought was a bit annoying, but that’s the character he is supposed to be. He makes some jokes that just aren’t funny, but he's a caricature. Frogner establishes that she is claustrophobic and the idea of avalanches is brought up. I like the reference of how to find the correct way to dig pay soff. Valdel, Røsten, Laursen, Skavlan and Torp are all solid as well as distinct, which is good for a film like this. I think Sundquist works as the harbinger character. Gamst and the rest of the Nazi zombies I thought also did a really good job here as well.
As for the pacing of this, I think that it was good. We have a runtime around an hour and half so it doesn’t take long to get into it and doesn’t outstay its welcome. I did find it a bit odd that it transitions to being in the day which I wasn’t expecting. We don’t normally get a lot of that as being in the light is usually safe. The second half of the action actually happens then which I thought worked. I do like that we get back-story through a couple different ways. That was solid if I’m honest. I also liked how it ended as it wasn’t what I was expecting. It again though, came back to something we saw earlier.
The effects were good as well. They looked to be done mostly practical which surprised me. There’s a head being ripped apart as well as guts being pulled out. I did notice some CGI with blood spray. It is seen more at a distance though so I don’t have a lot of issues. It was something I noticed more with the second viewing. The blood dries on people’s faces, but I think this is smart as it is cold out. I think that brings a bit of realism if I’m honest. I will say that this is part comedy though, so some of the deaths are a bit outrageous. Not enough to ruin this, but something that does hurt it slightly for me.
The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack. I love that this film earlier on starts with a classic piece as it set the tone here. We get a bit more of this as it goes on as well. The rest of the score fit for what was needed. It doesn’t necessarily stand out or a soundtrack I would regularly listen to, but for what was needed here I thought it was on point. With this most recent watch, the Norwegian death metal is fitting.
Now with that said, I dug this film. It really combines some concepts that I enjoy together with Nazis, zombies and the occult. There’s good writing here which I appreciate. The acting is solid and we have some distinct characters as well. It is paced in a way where it never gets boring so that is nice. The effects and look of the zombies are good. The soundtrack fits for what was needed. An issue I have is this is part comedy so that hurts it just slightly. There can be humor, but it leans a bit too much into it. I still like this film and would say that overall, this is a solid movie. I will warn you; this is from Norway so I had to watch it with subtitles. If that’s an issue, I would avoid it.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10