Cult Horror Corner: Dead Snow
It’s always a shame when films with a fun-sounding concept like Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow turns out to be utter rubbish. Sadly, that is exactly what we have here; a jumbled mess of a horror comedy that disposes of big scares and funny jokes for slapstick gore and…more slapstick gore
The basic plot revolves around a group of Norwegian students who stay in a cabin in the woods (yawn) and find themselves confronted with a group of undead Nazis. The synopsis has some merit, as generally we do not expect our zombie films to come with a dash of Nazism, but the film squanders it by not making them any more interesting than your average horde of zombies; the fact that they run doesn’t make them any more entertaining.
Meanwhile, the cast are so nondescript I couldn’t really tell you anything about them, apart from the fat, self deprecating one who happens to be a film geek, and a medical student afraid of blood. That’s about all we have for personality here; the characters are dispatched so quickly, the director shows his audience that his only priority is blood and gore.
Dead Snow reminded me greatly of the early Peter Jackson efforts, such as Bad Taste, in which the only memorable thing about the films is the spectacularly over the top gore (although I appreciate the fact that Jackson at least tried to write jokes as well). Dead Snow tries to use the same tactics, but without the low budget and sense of invention, we’re left with a series of depressingly bloody set pieces that diminish in laughs. For example, there is one memorable scene in which two of the characters slice through a group of zombies with various power tools, and we’re asked to laugh as they die in increasingly brutal fashion, climaxing in a zombie being killed with a snowmobile. Rather than coming up with funny, inventive ways to die, or at least one-liners, we just get blood and that’s it.
I’m all for horror comedy but there needs to be more of an attempt at comedy than just blood. Also, there’s one scene in this ‘comedy’ in which a man turns around to what he thinks is a zombie and pierces his girlfriend through the neck. Coming straight after another slaughtering of zombies, this is a jarring, wildly misguided attempt at drama that leaves an incredibly funny taste in my mouth.
The only thing that saves Dead Snow from total failure is the first twenty minutes, which features an enjoyable jump scare, and some solid banter with the main characters. It isn’t particularly funny, but the characters at least feel real and fairly likeable. Of course, it soon evaporates, but it’s solid enough to not leave you entirely hateful. Dead Snow doesn’t want to be a mindless, bloody, dull film with no imagination or scares; it just appears to.
by Harry Ford