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DEAD SNOW (2009)

-Review by Nic Brown-

Norway is not the first place most people think of when they think “horror”. Director Tommy Wirkola wants to change that with his new film DEAD SNOW. Set in the beautiful, snow-covered Norwegian countryside, the film opens with a group of medical students driving to a remote cabin for a few days away from the pressures of school. The set-up is fairly typical for a horror movie: a band of students out for a good time of drinking and sex. A menacing old man shows up at their door on the first night, warning them of the evil that inhabits the mountains of this region. He talks of a Nazi garrison stationed in the area during World War II, and of the atrocities they carried out on the locals, before being forced to flee to certain death in the mountains at the end of the war. This ominous warning sets the stage for the arrival of the film’s stars: Nazi Zombies. The students soon find themselves in a life or death struggle with undead members of the Third Reich.

 

DEAD SNOW is a fun, gory film! Wirkola and co-writer Stig Frode Henriksen take some of the most common horror elements: a remote location, partying students, and zombies; and they make something original from the mix. The film makes no bones about its origins; one of the characters is a horror movie fanatic who even points out how many films start with a group of students heading off to a remote cabin in the woods for the weekend, only to be killed off one by one. There are also many scenes that pay tribute to films such as EVIL DEAD as well as the classic zombie films of George Romero.

 

DEAD SNOW also has excellent on-screen chemistry between the cast members, which helps enhance the audience’s empathy for them and their situation. Wirkola makes excellent use of the film’s scenic location, using it to create a sense of vastness that, at the same time, invokes feelings of isolation. His zombies have a special quality to them as well. Although not overly intelligent, they are not mindless automatons stumbling through the wilderness. The zombies still follow the command of their old leader, Colonel Herzog, and this gives them a menacing since of coordination that most zombie hordes don’t have. It would have been nice to learn more about Herzog and his men and why they are roaming the mountains of Norway as the undead, but at the same time the unanswered questions just add to the film’s ambiance.

 

Filled with equal amounts of humor and gore, DEAD SNOW manages to strike a successful balance that keeps the film entertaining from start to finish. While DEAD SNOW doesn’t break much new ground with its set up: “Hey let’s go for a fun weekend in an isolated cabin in the woods…” it is well made, well acted, and it also has Nazi zombies and that goes a long way for originality. So check out the newest European horror export: Tommy Wirkola’s DEAD SNOW and remember - just because the idea of going to a cabin in the woods and being attacked by zombies is a little cliché, doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen to you!



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