Dead Snow (2009) – By Cary Conley

I discovered this nifty Norwegian zombie flick on Netflix and I’m glad I ran into it.  It’s a horror/comedy hybrid, but not really in the vein of Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, and Peter Jackson’s Braindead, but more straightforward horror and zombie gore with a hint of humor to keep things fun.

A group of friends are going on a winter vacation to a cabin deep in the Norwegian wild.  While most of them drive to the cabin, one girl decides to come via cross-country skiing (she’s apparently a sports junkie).  The group arrives only to have a strange old man warn them to leave because the woods are haunted by dead Nazis who were massacred by the angry Norwegian villagers during World War II.  Of course, they dismiss him as a crazed mountain man, but after dinner they find an old box with WWII paraphernalia mysteriously hidden under the floorboards of the cabin.

Of course, the zombies want the box and they attack the cabin.  One girl is killed in the outhouse while her friends are stuck in the cabin, surrounded by zombies.  Frantic to hunt down his girlfriend who is skiing somewhere in the Norwegian arctic, one man leaves by snowmobile.  The next morning, while everything is quiet, the other survivors hatch a plan that sends the two girls to the cars to get help while the two guys try to draw attention to themselves to allow the girls to escape.  Now we have three separate groups (snowmobile boy, the girls, and the guys banging on pots and pans) all fighting Nazi zombies for survival.

While the story isn’t new, taking its cues from everything from The Evil Dead to Jess Franco’s own Nazi zombie epic, Oasis of the Zombies, a well-made zombie film is always a treat, in my opinion.  The production values are excellent, the acting is quite good, and the script is taught.  The soundtrack is also excellent with Norwegian metal bands playing and singing in Norwegian—it’s really perfect for this fun little film.  There are plenty of zombies killing and getting killed and some very unique scenes are set up.  For instance, we have the man on the snowmobile that finds an old WWII machine gun and mounts it on the front of his vehicle, taking down tons of zombies as he plows through the snow.  The two guys left at the cabin also find an old shed with plenty of sharp farm implements that are good for killing zombies and they promptly put them to use.

There is the occasional joke or funny setup, such as the zombie who grabs the back of the snowmobile, climbs up to the seat, and rears up to take a bite out of the driver just as the snowmobile passes under a low-hanging tree branch.  The zombie is clobbered in slapstick-style while the driver never even knows how close he came to being bitten.  One man is bitten in the arm while fighting off an undead Nazi, and since everyone knows that once you are bitten, you turn into a zombie, he takes a chainsaw and cuts off his own arm in true Evil Dead fashion.  Unfortunately, as he is beaming with pride at his resourcefulness, a zombie bites him in the groin.  The look on his face is priceless as he realizes he just can’t cut THAT off!  And in another funny scene, one man calls 911 (before the battery on his cell phone goes dead, of course) and explains the undead Nazi soldiers are attacking him and his friends.  The operator hangs up on him, leaving him to wonder aloud why someone would hang up on him during his time of need.  One friend yells at him, “Because they think you’ve been smoking your shorts!”  It translates better on film than in words, but again, there are some funny episodes, but this isn’t really a spoof like Shaun of the Dead as much as it is some filmmakers who are just having a blast poking fun at the incredible situation they have put their characters in.

Funny, gory, and action-packed, this one was a complete surprise to me.  If you enjoy high-quality roller-coaster horror films, you are sure to enjoy this one.  Recommended.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go smoke my shorts and make prank phone calls to 911.