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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
It's from Norway. A zombie film from Norway. NORWAY! Where movies move so slowly you sit there actually feeling your hairs grow out of your skin.
There were moments like that in Norway's Horror Thriller offering from 2008, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. This year we're still in revenant land but with zombies instead of vampires. So let me be clear. This sucker moves!
It doesn't move like many a half-assed Hollywood Horror movie where the point is not to scare but merely to make a second generation copy of last years' powerful indie movie - think KAIRO to PULSE. Or third generation copy if we are talking about a remake of some past pseudo glory - MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Fourth generation if we are talking about a sequel to a remake - THE RING 2. Abortion if we are talking about a DtV sequel - THE GRUDGE 3, SPECIES IV, and so on. I'm aware of quite a few so-called Horror Thriller fans who actually get upset with a movie if it scares them. They bray on message boards that as long as a movie has boobs and blood they're happy. And Hollywood actually listens to these yokels. Yet, if such people really were in supposedly vast numbers, Producers like Fred Olen Ray and Lloyd Kaufman would be making so much money they'd be sailing to Cannes on their supersonic yachts.
Right up front, DEAD SNOW is scary. And you wouldn't think that'd be so because the template is just so damn old: a bunch of college students spend their break in a cabin in the woods. That plot was old back in the 1970s when Raimi made THE EVIL DEAD. But it works here because Director and co-writer Tommy Wirkola starts off slow like you'd expect of a Norwegian movie. Then, once you are nice and settled into the pace of his film he...
Oh, I should mention the people in this movie!
To the tune of Hall Of The Mountain Kings, from the Peer Gynt Suite, we watch a young woman running through the snow covered forests, chased by really ugly Nazis. Not just any Nazis, but Zombie Nazis! And let's face it, the zombie nazi subgenre hasn't really been up to much in over 30 years since SHOCK WAVES and ZOMBIE LAKE. So this is the 5 minute opening "Gotcha" scene and it ends like you'd expect.
Next we see a carload of guys a yapping away. There is,
Jeppe Laursen (ROVDYR, SNARVEIEN) who is Erland, the pudgy Horror Thriller movie geek. He isn't actually the hero of this story, but his character is one of us so he gets top billing. Even though he's a geek, he is surrounded by his friends and doesn't bear the brunt of incessant asshole ridicule, as will be found when this movie is remade in Hollywood for American audiences to ignore. Erland is kind of attracted to Chris (Jenny Skavlan) and she might be attracted to him.
Vegar Hoel is Martin, a tall, balding med student who can't stand the sight of blood. Seriously? WRONG movie for a guy like THIS to be in! He's in love with the gal in the other car, Hannah (Charlotte Frogner)
Stig Frode Henriksen is the jokester in the bunch, Roy. He didn't really want to go to the snowy mountains, he wanted the beach! Then again, Stig the co-writer made DAMN sure that Roy his character doesn't always get what he wants. Who he DOES want is the slightly spacey Liv (Evy Kasten Røsten).
Lasse Valdal as Vegard, is the sportsman of the bunch. He drives the car, the cabin belongs to his girlfriend, Sara (Ane Dahl Torp), who will be along separately, and he brought along his snowmobile. He's the strongest character of the bunch, so guess what happens to HIM?
They make it to the cabin just fine. They have a wonderful day of fun, they sit around at night while Vergard starts to worry where Sara is, and a much older man (Bjørn Sundquist: SLEEPWALKER) comes knocking at the door. Well it's cold and there's only one of him, so they let him in. He quickly makes an irritating nuisance of himself, insulting them all, and then tells them a very scary tale of Nazis in the area during world War II. Soon he is out of the house and the evening seems less enjoyable. Early the next morning, Vegard goes out on his snowmobile. He needs to find Sara.
The fun is starting to sputter on this trip but the remaining friends try and make the best of it. Then the beer runs out and they find a hidden box in the cabin.
Soon there are noises outside. Soon all...
Oh wait, let me finish off what I started earlier. Okay, so then, once you are nice and settled into the pace of this film, director Tommy Wirkola let's all hell break loose.
And he does it in the most aggressive manner possible.
At around the halfway mark, DEAD SNOW goes for the throat and turns into one of the most hardcore zombie movies I've ever seen. And for a zombie movie, that's really saying something!
The blood and gore is abundant and inventive enough to be funny in some places. Intentionally funny I mean, and the laughs work.
In fact, this would be a perfect movie if Tommy and Stig didn't decide that their Zombie Nazis needed a reason for killing.
I mean, zombies really don't need a reason, but if you insist on having one, make it consistent. If your monsters are only killing because of "X", then you can't have them killing for some other reason as well - or no reason at all. And if you want your monsters to kill for no reason at all, that's cool too. But don't jump up in the final act of your movie and say, "Oh no, no, they are REALLY only killing because of "X"!
But even taking that one Shriek Girl off, leaves a solid 4 Shriek Girls for this Wicked Cool movie!
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