When Dead Snow first came out, it was one of those movies that looked so ridiculous that I had to see it. I mean, it was basically a movie version of “Call of Duty’s” Nazi zombies level–and the two have some pretty good similarities.
It just took me five years to have the time and progress in my Netflix queue to actually watch it. And the thing is it’s actually a pretty good movie, at least as far as zombie gore goes. It’s not some epic, groundbreaking movie, but it’s almost a popcorn movie (if you can eat popcorn while watching intestines get ripped out many times) in that it’s definitely entertaining and something you can just sit back and enjoy.
In some ways, it relies on horror cliches–like young college students vacationing in a remote cabin in the woods with no cellphone service with a perfect male-to-female ratio where all but like two are dating and those two sneak away to bang right before one dies, plus some random creepy dude who tells of local folklore and warns them only to die five minutes later–but it plays with those cliches, too. The characters have a brief conversation just about horror movies with people alone without cellphone reception, and when they realize they’re being attacked by Nazi zombies, one of them warns everyone not to get bit. And this is why Dead Snow actually works as a film, and it’s probably one of my favorite things not just in this case but in any over-the-top gory horror–it knows exactly what it is and it’s not trying to be anything different. Yeah, Nazi zombies are ridiculous. Yeah, we’ve seen most of this movie done before in some other form. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make it enjoyable. There’s not even much of a plot–it’s basically just Nazi zombies hunting down kids in a cabin who made the mistake of stumbling upon hidden Nazi treasure and tucked away some pieces of it to take home. And that’s all you need in a zombie movie, really.
Well, that and some glorious dark humor. Part of the fun of a movie like this is it’s not trying to be too serious, let alone serious at all, which probably makes for a better film. Try too hard and you get some ridiculous, hokey movie, but throw in some jokes and lighten things up and you get something more enjoyable. The funniest and arguably most clever part of the movie is when a character mid-battle forms the hammer and sickle with his weapons–a hammer and sickle, duh–and an opposing Nazi zombie screams. And what do you do when a character decides to cut off any body parts zombies bite so as to prevent becoming one? You have a whole sequence of him cutting off his own arm and then have a zombie burst out of the snow beneath him and bite his dick, of course.
Really, I was expecting a bad horror B-movie. And when you’re a horror fan who doesn’t scare easily, that ends up being most movies billed as “horror.” Instead, I was pleasantly surprised with a genuinely enjoyable movie (with a very promising sequel that just came out) that’s easy to appreciate because of all those bad horrors preceding it and because it’s pretty straightforward–it’s just zombies and blood everywhere. And despite its use of cliches, it’s not necessarily predictable–sure, most likely all but one person will die, but the fun is seeing how it happens, as well as who survives and how they do it.