Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead Sequel Gold

Film poster for Dead Snow 2.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead is the long awaited sequel to the 2009 Norwegian comedy horror film written and directed by Tommy Wirkola (Stig Frode co-wrote both films and this gold plated sequel also had Vegar Hoel working on the script.) This film follows the adventures of Martin (played again by Vegar Hoel) who was the unlikely survivor from the Dead Snow.

The first movie was about a group of friends who travel to the mountains for a skiing holiday and while they are staying in their cabin find Nazi gold hidden in a box under the floor. The second that any of the treasure leaves the box, a horde of zombie Nazis come out of the snow and begin killing off the holiday makers one-by-one.

For those who have not seen the first film, this is all covered in a short recap narrated by Martin himself. This time, the survivor is wanted by the police after they found all his dead friends up in the mountains. His fiancee, Hanna; who he accidentally killed with an ax, still has the weapon lodged in her throat, “with your fingerprints all over it,” the police detective smugly informs Martin.

On top of his immediate problems of being charged with multiple murders, he has had Herzog’s arm attached to his body, Herzog was the Nazi commander who led the undead soldiers. While recuperating in the hospital, handcuffed to his bed, Martin meets a young boy who is in contact with the US Zombie Squad. He talks the lad into releasing him only to kill the youngster with his zombie arm.

After trying, in a spectacular failure which results in obliterating any chance the boy had of recovering, to revive his new friend, Martin then talks to the zombie squad and they promise to arrive in Norway and save the day. The rest of the film deals with this disparate group trying to kill off the Nazi zombies as well as resurrecting a group of Russian zombies that Herzog had killed during the war to help them win this zombie battle.

At 100 minutes the sequel is that little bit longer than the first one. Overall, however, this does not matter in the least as the gags, and the gore, keep coming with machine gun rapidity that leaves the viewer gasping. The film’s humor runs from parody to full-on slapstick. Perhaps the only complaint was the decision to make the dialogue English versus Norwegian with subtitles.

It is surprising to hear Martin speaking English and while there are a few moment of confusion once the US Zombie Squad are introduced it all becomes clear why they dropped their native language and the subtitles. In all honesty, the film still works brilliantly and is funny regardless of the dialogue change.

Comparing the two films, it is obvious that the budget for number two is much bigger than the first one. The scope of the movie is much larger, no longer restricted to the snowy mountain setting from number one, this sequel roams across the Norwegian landscape through a village or two and back into those mountains.

In Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead, there are zombie fighting nerds, or geeks, a tank, the ability to touch dead people and turn them into zombies, or “recruiting” as Martin puts it at one point, and some local police who are very funny indeed.

Without resorting to any spoilers, there also seems to be a good chance for a Dead Snow 3 to become a reality. For those who loved the first two, this could be good news if they do not mess things up.

This is a real 5 out of 5 star film despite the odd things that make no sense, such as a museum tank having life rounds in it. Available on iTunes to stream and available on DVD.

7 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Dead Snow (2009): Norwegian Nazi-Zombie Fun

Cover of "Dead Snow [Blu-ray]"
Cover of Dead Snow [Blu-ray]
Directed by Tommy Wirkola (Kill Buljo: The MovieHansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters [2013]) and co-written with Stig Frode Henriksen (Kill Buljo: The MovieKurt Josef Wagle og legenden om fjordheksa), Dead Snow is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The film itself could almost be a ‘fan-film’ of all things horror and zombie related. It opened to positive reviews and although there is no reference to the films shooting budget, it earned respectable one million plus dollars in it’s gross profits. Although the film does feel a little like an updated version of the old ‘Andy Hardy’ films and their, “Hey kids, lets put on a show in the barn!” , it doesn’t suffer from it. It actually causes the film and it’s paper thin plot that bit more appealing.

The film opens with a young lady being pursued though deep snow in the Nordic mountains by a Nazi-zombie. She is cornered, killed and eaten by a group of Nazi-zombies.

We then meet a group of seven students who are on holiday in the Norwegian mountains. They are on a skiing trip and on the way to a friends cabin in the mountains. The students are all typical ‘film’ students, in other words they all focus on sex, drugs and rock and roll.

The students make their way to the cabin and their first night there they encounter a ‘hiker’ Turgåer (Bjørn Sundquist) who tells the students about an old Norwegian curse that affected the Nazi’s who occupied Norway during the second world war. Greedy Nazi’s who searched for a rumoured pile of hidden riches were cursed. When the Nazi’s died in their greedy quest, they were  forced to forever roam the mountains as the undead who would be brought back to ‘life’ by the allure of riches.

The students, Martin (Vegar Hoel), Roy (Stig Frode Henriksen), Vegard (Lasse Valdal), Hanna (Charlotte Frogner), Liv (Evy Kasseth Røsten), Erland (Jeppe Laursen) and Chris (Jenny Skavlan) have been invited by Vegard’s girlfriend Sara (Ane Dahl Torp) to stay at her cabin. Unfortunately, the young lady we saw at the beginning of the film being snacked on by zombies was Sara and she won’t be showing up.

The group are confused and concerned by Sara’s absence and they discuss where she might be and whether they should be searching for her. They search the cabin to see if they can find a clue about where Sara might have gone.

This film is a combination of a comedy of errors and a possible homage to the Evil Dead films. The students themselves are dispatched quite messily (and truth be told, comically)  by random Nazi-zombies and at one point two of the survivors arm themselves with assorted power tools.

The group at different times in the film discuss popular myths and legends about zombies in films and other cultural elements. For the most part they try a lot of the more culturally prevalent means of dispatching  zombies. Hilariously they either succeed or fail and it is their realization of the danger of their predicament that amuses the most. By the time they begin to take things seriously, it is for most of them, too late.

The film makers were not afraid to milk the most laughs possible out of any given scene. At one point in the film, one of the students, Vergard, is fighting with a zombie while they both hang on the entrails of another zombie, dangling from a cliff face.

The zombies, because of the curse, are attracted by riches of any kind. When the students discover a box full of ‘treasure’ in the basement of the cabin, this lures the zombies to attack and kill the cabins inhabitants.

I laughed as much as I groaned at some of the more apparent ‘clichés’ that the film-makers included in the film’s set pieces.

But I loved the film and it’s ‘cliff-hanger’ ending. Fan’s of horror films and zombie films should enjoy this film, if they realise that it’s not taking itself seriously at all. Watch it with the idea that it is a combination of satire and spoof and you’ll get a kick out of it.

Dead Snow
Dead Snow (Photo credit: DONOSTIA KULTURA)