I briefly mentioned Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow in my Troll Hunter review as another example of strange ideas Norwegian horror directors put out, though at the time I hadn’t seen it. To be quite honest, while I did enjoy Dead Snow quite a bit, I was also slightly underwhelmed by it. While I’m definitely all for horror films of all types, shapes, and sizes, this really didn’t turn out to be the fun, splatter-filled gorefest that its advertising seemed to anticipate. On the contrary, the violence and gore remains relatively minimal throughout the entirety of the narrative – that is, until the final third kicks in. At that point, it heads generously into its own tasty brand of zombie-type violence. It’s quite a solid flick and I’m glad Netflix had been heedlessly recommending it to me for months.
As I stated in my You’re Next review, slasher films especially seem to exemplify how difficult it is to stay in common tropes of the genre while also emitting enough original substance to please audiences. Upon starting this film, I assumed that I was in for a modern take on Nazisploitation cinema of yesteryear. It turns out that this film is even more simpler than that, as it soon embarked upon a situation we’ve seen a million times before in horror films: a group of friends renting out a cabin in woods (or in this case, the mountains). There is even a sequence of dialogue that remarks upon the irony of the situation. The characters themselves, all young men and women, even tend to fit the cookie-cutter stereotypes that have become genre cliché, all the way down to the creepy older man who comes in and provides full exposition of the story.
Is lack of originality a complaint? Well, no. Thankfully, the film is prevented from being a dry, predictable slog thanks to the sharp, twisted sense of humor that the narrative is deeply enveloped in. After all, within a film dealing with Nazi killer zombies, a fair bit of light-heartedness would perhaps do it some good. Which brings us to my next moment of perplexity, in that I was pretty surprised at how downplayed the historical/political aspects of the plot were. While movies that play as a historical satire against Nazis often bring some level of their beliefs and politics into light, Dead Snow implements these elements to the utmost minimum. Besides their military uniforms and war-like tactics of attack, they really aren’t anything more than average zombies that one would find in any other flick about the undead. Of course, this isn’t exactly a complaint, as it features some rather unabashedly gory kill scenes that one aims to look for in a fun zombie film.
So, while I’d be hard-pressed to call Dead Snow a “bad” film in any sense of the word, it definitely wasn’t the average homage to classic exploitation cinema that I was slightly expecting. This in itself isn’t a flaw, as it presented itself with a biting sense of humor and moved along as such a nice pace, it’s impossible to say that I didn’t have a good time with it. Perhaps I’m simply more captivated by blatant satirical criticism of radical-right politics, the likes of which is nowhere to be found here – at least for me. To each their own.