in Shocktober

Dead Snow (2009)

What does one envision when thinking of Norway? Snow? Skiing? That show where Steven Van Zandt wears an Elvis wig and parodies every Italian stereotype? How about Nazi zombies? That’s right. Dead Snow is a movie about the only thing scarier than Steven Van Zandt. Dead Snow is a movie about a group of medical students who get attacked in the mountains by Nazi zombies. I’d read about the film on the interwebs for years but had always been hesitant. I mean, Nazi zombies? It sounds funny in theory, but where do you go from there?

Dead Snow begins with a big group of horny Norwegian med students heading out to a desolated, wi-fi-less cabin in the wilderness. The setup is familiar territory, and the film is well aware of it. Dead Snow even makes fun of the premise when one of the characters—a fat nerd, of course—remarks how similar their situation is to a horror movie. I don’t know about you, but I’m at the point where self-aware horror movies have lost their charm. It’s as if the filmmakers have decided to say, “We know our film’s bad, so instead of trying to fix it, we are gonna write some lame jokes.”

The cast is fine, but there’s not a memorable character in the bunch. The film never even establishes a protagonist. It gets close with this one guy who kind of looks like Andrew Garfield and Hayden Christensen had a Norwegian baby, but he’s often thrown to the side and forgotten in the muck of things. No love for the fat nerd either.

I will give Dead Snow props for a few things. I like the Nazi’s backstory. Their story is delivered via a rambling story by a crotchety hunter the teens let in from the cold. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the Nazi story; they occupied the area during the war and were driven into the mountains by locals, but it’s told in a colorful and engaging way. These zombies are then summoned by the med students after uncovering and looting a box of Nazi gold. What follows is an all out blood bath between the Nazis and the students for the majority of the film’s running time.

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Another good thing, the makeup effects. They look great. The traditional gore in Dead Snow is the one thing keeping it a tier above SyFy channel original movie. There are a few bad CGI blood splatters here and there but for the most part, it’s all corn syrup and drippy red rubber. One scene in particular I enjoy is when a man is ripped in half hot dog style. I did not see it coming. If only I had some stake in anything happening.

Dead Snow could have been a great chance for biting satire. They could have made jabs at WWII, Nazi stereotypes or cliches, it’s a rich tapestry. Instead, they did nothing. It doesn’t matter that the zombies are Nazis. It doesn’t strengthen their motivations, nor does it correlate or draw any parallels to the group of med students. It feels irrelevant, as does much of the film. Though if you consider yourself a bonafide gorehound, you might like this one. I know they made a sequel. Maybe it’s more realized? Scarier? Though good luck trying to be scarier than Steven Van Zandt. Mamma Mia.