Thursday, October 28, 2010

Movie Review: Dead Snow (2009)

Dead Snow (2009)

MPAA rating

Unrated, I guess since it was a foreign film that barely got released in the USA. I heard about it from BBC film reviewer Mark Kermode a long time ago, and finally watched it through Netflix's on demand queue.

ZPAA rating

Late teens and up

Gore level

9 out of 10--Lots of people being torn to pieces on screen; plenty of intestines and one human brain make appearances; people never bother to wash off blood splatter; the bad guys ooze dark, blood-like liquid from their pale gray orifices, but otherwise aren't too gory for the walking undead. Except when they lose limbs or are otherwise torn up by the living.

Other offensive content

Lots of bad language and violence; one non-marital sex scene without nudity.

How much zombie mythology/content

This movie is all over the place about the zombies. Sure, they are the reanimated corpses of Nazi soldiers from World War II. They eat their victims when they can. But, even when they bite people, no one ever turns into a zombie. And they are pretty intelligent in attacking and can run like a normal person. They follow the orders of the Nazi commander (there is a cool scene where he screams "Arise!" and hundreds of Nazis pop up out of the snow). And they're just as interested in getting back their gold as they are in killing and eating.

How much fun

The movie seems to be intended as a comedy horror, though the jokes don't really start till a third of the way through the film. Even then, the humor is a little lame and mostly gross out gags. They references to other films are entertaining but didn't sustain my interest. This isn't Shaun of the Dead or Evil Dead II by any stretch.

Synopsis & Review

This movie has a fabulous premise: Nazi zombies. Eight medical students head to a cabin in the middle of a snowy Easter break for fun and frivolity. The first night, an old guy drifts through and relates as creepily as he can how haunted the mountains are, especially since a Nazi troop had terrorized the nearby town, stole everything of value from the town and was eventually driven off by the disgruntled townfolk. Presumably the Nazis froze to death in the mountains but strange tales abide and no one stay on the mountains for long if they can help it. This old coot then heads out into the snowy darkness leaving the other to sort out what to do. They then find Nazi gold hidden in the crawlspace under the house, which brings on the undead Nazi mayhem as they come to get their gold back.

I'm certainly willing to forgive a film that has a hackneyed set-up (the characters even discuss that the "cabin in the woods" beginning has been used countless times in horror movies). As long as the movie rewards the viewer with inventive twists or clever writing or characters you feel invested in or interesting visuals or some other worthwhile payoff. Certainly Nazi zombies should allow for a lot of creative license and fun playing around, which could make up for uninteresting characters, predictable twists and a nearly complete lack of visual flair. Unfortunately, all of these faults are in the movie AND they do more or less nothing with the Nazi aspect of the zombies. Sure, there's the awkward joke about how the zombies wouldn't turn one of the guys into a zombie because he's half Jewish. And the zombies have Swastikas on their costumes and WWII weapons. That's it. It could just have easily been an undead Attila with a bunch of zombie Huns running around trying to get back their gold. Only the uniforms and the weapons would be different. Even as zombies, they are unsatisfying, as I said above.

So I can't recommend the movie, unless you're into just the gore, which I don't really enjoy. I'm not even going to post an Amazon link at the end. Yeah, it's so bad I would be ashamed to make money off of it. I will post the trailer, though, if you are desperate to see more:

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