NORWAY 2009 Directed by: Tommy Wirkola Produced by: Tomas Evjen, Terje Stroemstad Written by: Tommy Wirkola, Stig Frode Henriksen Cinematography by: Matthew Weston Editing: Martin Stoltz Music: Christian Wibe Cast: Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Charlotte Frogner, Lasse Valdal, Evy Kasseth Rosten, Jeppe Laursen, Jenny Skavlan, Ane Dahl Torp, Bjoern Sundquist, Oerjan Gamst
Let’s say it once more: there’s hardly anything more entertaining than a good zombie flick. And it’s great to see the genre isn’t dead yet, despite Romero recently contributing the least original works to the wave of new zombie movies.
One of the more interesting entries of last year was DEAD SNOW: a bunch of ruthless Nazi soldiers went hiding and then missing somewhere in the Norwegian woods during WWII. After torturing the local villagers and steeling their silver and gold the villagers finally were fed up with the occupying force and took revenge, killing as many Nazis as they could find. The Nazi core group led by Oberst Herzog however escaped into the forest and decades later rumor has it that the Nazis are back – as zombies, looking for their lost treasure. And just as THE EVIL DEAD and its epigones would want to have it a group of students spending their Easter holidays in a remote log cabin deep in the Norwegian forests accidentally run into the zombie soldiers – the rest is horror movie history.
It’s amazing how differently we look at zombie flicks today compared to the good old days of Lucio Fulci, Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson. One of the characters of DEAD SNOW is wearing a T-Shirt with a BRAINDEAD motif: while this is not exactly original even within the context of a not-so-serious zombie movie it instantly reminds us of the times when zombie movies were dead serious and censors around the world saw them as the personified evil.
The zombie movie has come a long way since then. With Raimi and Jackson taking violence to a new comical level with their later works the zombie movie lost it’s fear factor: violence wasn’t frightening anymore, the Grand Guignol cathartic effect changed to comic relief. DEAD SNOW just like many other movies plays it safe as the black comedy that it is: no matter how many limbs are torn, heads crushed or chain saws stuck into zombie stomachs, DEAD SNOW can never be taken seriously. It seems that today movies that hardly show any violence on-screen can affect us much more than splatter movies can. If you want to shit your pants watch David Lynch, blood and gore are simply fun.
DEAD SNOW is entirely formulaic as far as plot threads, setting and dramaturgy go. The only original ingredients are the zombie Nazi soldiers and the winter landscape which provides a great canvas for spilling as much of the red juice as possible. Many scenes are really funny, some are pretty unique and a lot is just average. Overall DEAD SNOW is well done though and despite adding nothing new to the genre it feels fresh and funky. A film by fans for fans, yet without vision or the will to single-handedly change the world of the flesh eaters.
That should also make discussions dealing with the question if Herzog is supposed to be Hitler (what an absurd thought), or if we should be upset about the idea that Nazis are being zombified for entertainment purposes, or the general political correctness of DEAD SNOW obsolete. It occurs to me that tastelessness – or at least the opposite of good taste – is a prerequisite for successful genre movie making.
It’s safe to say that DEAD SNOW caters to those who are in it for the action: despite, or because of a slow beginning it manages to create a creepy atmosphere that makes the story more believable, right before turning into an all-out students-vs.-Nazi-zombies splatterfest. Its entertainment value, humble attitude and realistic self-assessment earns DEAD SNOW more kudos than it might deserve, but we are more than happy to see some honest effort to create a good zombie movie.
There’s hardly anything more entertaining than…