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Early Review of Nazi Zombies in DEAD SNOW blow in from the chilly Nordic side of the world!

Hey folks, Harry here... Apparently they just screened DEAD SNOW, the Norwegian Nazi Zombie flick that's set to premiere at Sundance - and we nabbed a review. It seems to be mostly positive and I think at a midnight screening at Sundance, it'll play a whole lot better than it did there... often genre exploitation plays very strong outside of its native country where the acting and line delivery isn't that remarkable, but to those of us without an ear for the native tongue... feels good to us, what the fuck do we know? Right? Anyway, here ya go...

Hey Harry! I just got back from a preview screening of Dead Snow here in Norway, and I've noticed you guys seem to be looking forward to it, so I thought I'd chime in with a review. The Norwegian film industry has gone through a sort of horror-boom the last few years. It started with Villmark (Dark Woods) five years back, and then we got three more horror movies about groups of people getting killed off in the Norwegian wilderness. (Yes, i refer to four movies in as many years as a «boom», it's a small country, okay? Don't mock.) They were all basically the same, Fritt Vilt (Cold Prey) and its recent domestic smash hit sequel were about snowboarders getting picked off by an abominable hook man (well he didn't actually use a hook, but you get the point) and the lower budgeted Rovdyr (Backwoods aka Manhunt) featured a group of hillbilly hunters picking off the annoying people. And here we go again with a group of people going on a vacation out into the remote snowy wilderness only to wind up dead. The difference this time is: there are nazi zombies. Nazis! That are zombies! That do a lot of punching and running around. And the whole thing is a lot less serious than the previous slasher flicks. Well, the first half kind of pretends to be a serious horror movie, passing through all the familiar tropes: a group of twenty-somethings drive out to a remote mountain cabin to drink beer and have sex. They hear strange noises, they make out, they get a sudden unexpected visit from a creepy local man looking for a cup of coffee and he starts the obligatory eerie storytelling session about local history and how they should be careful. It's all very familiar, very reference-y and strangely serious in tone, although with jokes. They don't play it as an all out parody, but they're obviously very aware of similar movies, and they use that awareness to reference and poke fun, but it's played serious and there's nothing new there. You've seen it all before. I wish they had used that knowledge to do something new with those tropes, but rather they try to build the tension through them just like every other such movie, and it didn't work for me. This might throw some casual viewers off, because when the zombie carnage really gets underway they push it pretty far into the goofy territory. Soon tension goes out the window and you find yourself wondering «Hey! Where the fuck did he get that gatling gun?!», and I guess whether or not you like the film depends on whether you ask that question frowningly or with a big shit-eating grin on your face. It better be the latter, 'cause you won't get an answer. I've always loved movies where the answer to logical questions is «just 'cause it's awesome!». I wouldn't say I downright love this film, though. I like it. It's fun, but it takes a while before it gets to the really fun parts, and the serious, tense parts of it didn't hit me the way I'd hoped. There are some good menacing scenes, like one of the characters being buried alive in a sort of avalanche and a point of view shot of someone waking up to a couple of nazi zombies rifling through his/her intestines, but it's the carnage that's most fun. The effects look good, I liked the zombie make-up, and stretched intestines play a key part in at least three scenes, so there's plenty of blood and guts for the gorehounds to relish. I should also mention that the characters are kind of bland. Some of the characters I can't remember a single distinguishing fact about, and that's probably part of the reason why the tension didn't work for me. I didn't care enough. In general the flick has some issues with the balancing act. One of the guys I saw it with was put off by the goofy gore of the latter half, he thought it felt out of place and ruined the tension, whereas I didn't think they pulled off the tense parts sufficiently so I rejoiced when they stopped trying and just went all out with groovy Evil Dead 2 referencing. They even managed to do some gory stuff I don't think I've seen before, and I appreciate that. It's always fun when a zombie movie pulls off something new, because let's face it, we had zombies fighting sharks under water back in '79, this genre has been so saturated with crazy ideas that it's quite a feat to come up with something new. And while this one is all too caught up in references to really go into unexplored territory there were some good moments that were new to me, like someone sewing up their own pulsating neck wound with a fish hook and duct tape, or hanging off a cliff holding on to a nazi zombie's intestines or simply biting back. If that sounds like fun to you, you'll probably like Dead Snow, but beware of bland characters and potentially maddening tonal shifts. -Isopor
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