Welcome back from the Thanksgiving holidays (If you’re in America.) Welcome back to another regular week, The Rest of the World. I have a movie review for you and an important announcement.
When I first read about the 2009 Norwegian film Dead Snow, I thought “Zombies and Nazis? BRING IT.” So I was pretty excited to watch Dead Snow last night and it didn’t disappoint.
The movie follows a group of college students on a trip to a remote cabin in Øksfjord.
The place is ridiculously isolated and there’s no cell service (More on this later.) They have fun but can’t shake the feeling they’re being watched. Plus, their friend Sara (Ane Dahl Torp) was supposed to meet them there but is running very late. Then the creepy hiker shows up.
He insults their coffee, calls them brats, and then tells them about what happened in that area during World War Two. Øksfjord was occupied for three years by the brutal einsatzgruppen forces led by Standartenführer Herzog (Ørjan Gamst.) At the end of the war, they looted the town and shot anyone who objected. The citizens rebelled and fought back, killing many of the Nazis. The ones who survived ran into the mountains, including Herzog, where they froze to death. But are they really that dead?
The next day, Vegard (Lasse Valdal) goes out on the snowmobile to look for Sara. Meanwhile, resident movie geek Erlend (Jeppe Laursen) finds a box of gold stashed in the cabin. They play with the gold but then put (most of it) back. After the grossest sex scene ever (The sex itself isn’t gross, it’s just that it was set in an outhouse and the dude didn’t wash his hands), Chris (Jenny Skavlan) is attacked and killed by a zombie. When she doesn’t return, the group goes out to look for her and the whole cabin is attacked by zombies. Erland dies with his eyes gouged out and his skull split in two. These zombies have been working out in hell.
Meanwhile, while looking for Sara, Vegard finds the mysterious hiker’s body. He falls into a cave while investigating. He comes to and finds a cache of Nazi memorabilia that would make the creepy sociopathic dad from American Beauty wet himself. Vegard’s attacked and we get our first real long glimpse of the Nazi zombies.
They’re fast and strong and know how to fight.
Vegard stabs the zombie in the eye and guts him but another zombie attacks and they fall off a cliff. Vegard saves himself by using the zombie’s guts as a rope. It is glorious.
With Vegerd gone, the group decides to split up. The horror fan in me was screaming, “No! Never split up!” The girls, Hanna (Charlotte Frogner) and Liv (Evy Kasseth Røsten) run for the car while the guys, Martin (Vegar Hoel) and Roy (Stig Frode Henriksen) keep the zombies distracted.
Can I just take a moment to appreciate how badass Hanna is? When trapped on a cliff with a zombie, she breaks the ice and they both fall. Damn.
Liv’s pretty tough too. She’s caught by the zombies, wakes up to them eating her, and manages to detonate one of their hand grenades.
Roy and Martin accidentally burn the cabin down so they retreat to the shed and arm themselves with power tools and this is when they become Bruce Campbell-ian (There is a chainsaw.) The scene is actually quite funny, especially when Vegerd shows up with a machine-gun mounted to his snowmobile. That is until Martin accidentally kills Hanna with an axe to the neck.
Martin is bitten by a zombie. Erlend told them not to get bit and, convinced that he’s infected, Martin saws his own arm off. They think they have Herzog beaten until he summons about a gazillion dead Nazi zombies.
They run away but Roy is accidentally gutted and Martin is left as the only survivor.
Man, this movie. It’s not perfect but it’s really enjoyable. I don’t understand why critics gave it such a low rating. It has something like 60% at Rotten Tomatoes. This just reinforces for me how mainstream movie critics don’t get horror.
The good. The score is creepy but also fun. I kind of wish I could understand the rock songs, they sounded good. You don’t get to learn a lot about the characters because there are so many but you end up liking them. It’s so weird seeing college kids in a movie like this compared to the ones in more mainstream movies. We may not know a lot about them but they’re likable and we care about their fate. The monsters aren’t as gnarly as some zombies I’ve seen–they’re more like dried-up Fulci zombies than oozing fresh zombies–but the character design is unique. I think part of this is because, while I don’t support Naziism at all, they had the best uniforms ever of any historical villain. I particularly liked the new take on zombies. These guys are smart and strong, just dead and they will eat your flesh.
Now, the bad. The movie definitely has some plot holes. Maybe they’re minor but I’m fastidious, what can I say? The characters make a big deal about how they can not get a signal where they’re going. But then, when Roy and Martin burn down the cabin (Molotov cocktails) they get through. Huh? Also, would they have become infected if they get bitten? Martin and Vegerd both get bitten, although Vegerd doesn’t seem to have any symptoms. I tend to agree with Roy, they don’t want them.
My main complaint about the movie is that it didn’t go far enough. I expected The Evil Dead levels of blood and ended up with The Walking Dead levels. Not a bad amount, but not really enough. Especially if you’re going to have Martin evoke Bruce Campbell so much.
Also, this is a major pet peeve of mine, but the subtitles were really awful. They were light yellow and not outlined so they pretty much disappeared during any scene that was light-colored. Hey, this movie is full of snow! So I ended up squinting through much of the movie. This is a major pet-peeve of mine. And I refuse to listen to a foreign movie dubbed.
Studios, please fix this!
Now, my big announcement. To make up for my half-hearted Halloween celebration, I’ve decided to celebrate…Slashermas! Twelve glorious (loosely-defined) slasher movies for Christmas! The lineup will include Dark Night of the Scarecrow, A Nightmare on Elm Street (The new one), Sleepaway Camp, Tenebre, Opera, Who Can Kill a Child?, Psycho, Bloody Mary, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (The original), Halloween II, Prom Night, and Cut. God bless us, everybody!