Review: Død snø

Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writers: Stig Frode Henriksen, Tommy Wirkola
Producers: Terje Stroemstad, Tomas Evjen
Starring: Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Charlotte Frogner, Lasse Valdal, Evy Kasseth Røsten, Jeppe Laursen, Jenny Skavlan
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 91 min.

 


The market is becoming overly saturated with zombie movies. As much as I love the sub-genre, I have to admit that even I am getting sick of it (just look at my review for the pandering, Zombieland). Once in a while though you get a movie that ups the ante just enough to make the experience quite enjoyable. I realize this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Nazi undead, but this is the first one I know of that really makes it fun to sit through – assuming of course you’re not the squeamish type.

The movie starts as a fairly typical looking slasher style movie: a group of med students on vacation head into the wilderness (in this case a snowy mountain range in Norway) for a drunken weekend in a desolate cabin where no one can hear them scream. A creepy old man shows up out of nowhere to basically tell them (and the audience) to watch out for the “evil in these hills” (in this case, the souls of dead Nazis); then disappears without a trace. The kids of course then proceed to partake in various, stupid activities that one should never partake in whilst in the middle of a horror film (like have sex in a darkened outhouse in the middle of the night). Just when all hope is lost and the film seems like it is going to be typical, boring slasher thriller, the kills begin to emerge. And they keep coming and then just get better and better and better.

As the Nazis begin to emerge from the snow and we get to see more than mere shadowy glimpses of them, we get a real treat to the make-up effects and costuming efforts on display. In the last couple of years, zombie make-up effects have started to look really fantastic from almost any film in the genre. So it is almost expected that they look realistic and comically terrifying. Even so, when it’s done right it’s still worth mentioning as each film seems to have it’s own unique aesthetic when it comes to the undead. In Død snø, these zombies look almost charred or ashen – as if they originally died in a fire; which is an interesting look as they retain the ability to be expressive; hence, horrifying.

But the last half hour or so is where this film really flies. Once one of the main characters has his head ripped in half at the bare hands of a dead Nazi zombie, the crowd’s excitement seemed to heighten; as did my own. It is at this point that the kids decide they’ve had enough and determine themselves to fight back. And of course, taking on a legion of the S.S. with chainsaws and sledge hammers naturally gets a little bit messy. OK, a lot messy. There are some unique and splattery kills at work here and let’s be honest, with this kind of movie, that’s really all we want isn’t it? And Død snø delivers in spades. Constantly upping the bar and showing me something I haven’t seen before with each shot. I’ll take it.

So not much substance or depth to cover, but for those just looking for an intense zombie romp with lots of kills and unique locations (when have you ever seen a zombie outbreak movie set on a snow covered mountain range in broad daylight before?), you could have a lot less fun than Død snø. It was an enjoyable popcorn-fest and it reminds me how glad I am that I have never had to cut my own arm off with a hack saw.