First off, who knew that Dead Snow'sNazi zombies were also good at peddling products? Check out this commercial for hot cocoa - undead-Nazi approved!
In other news, we called on trusty io9er Bjørn T. Bøe, to fill us in on whetherDead Snow is worth the icy trek to Utah just to check out the new zombies. The film has been out in Norway for a wee bit longer, and Bjørn gives it two frostbitten thumbs up. Plus new pics below!
Bjørn T. Bøe says:
Død Snø starts off like any other in a long line of recent Norwegian teen-scream slasher flicks: A couple and their respective trios of sex-starved best friends are en route to a remote cabin for a cozy retreat. Seen that film before? Me too. That's why I was initially disappointed as I sat attending a private screening of the film. Granted, these characters were not teenagers, but still. But as it turned out, this opening was a sham; the film makers made an obvious nod to that well-known trope, partly to cement Død Snø as a comedy by pushing for the obvious, and partly because, well, the premise actually works with the plot that unfolds.
Yes, Død Snø is a comedy. You should know this before you enter the theatre at Sundance. However, it is also an extremely graphic splatter film, of the old school (none of that Hostel or Saw crap). I hate the standard Hollywood pitches, like "Die Hard meets Star Trek" (although I'd love to see that particular concept), but there is no escaping the fact that Død Snø borrows heavily from films like Evil Dead 1 and 2, Dead Alive, Surf Nazis Must Die, and even Pirates of the Caribbean. The latter in the form of a revealing MacGuffin (but I've already said too much - I want to keep this review spoiler-free beyond the clips you've already seen here on io9). But it is by no means a straight rip-off deal; the film gingerly tips its hat at those predecessors (well, apart from Pirates), both in the form of pretty obvious scene references, but also in the form of actual name-dropping, and the fact that film geek character Erlend (Jeppe Laursen) actually wears a Dead Alive! (called Braindead hereabouts) t-shirt during the initial zombie attack.
However, Død Snø is much more than a simple line-up of homages. It's something as original as a Norwegian monster movie, made for a mainstream audience. This one's a first, and despite its tiny budget of just under two million US dollars, it manages to come across just as flashy and eye-candy-like as anything else - it certainly has a production value vastly exceeding those films it draws upon. Pulling on Australian cinematographer Matt Weston's eye for exciting solutions, Død Snø comes across as part horror film, part extreme sports video - and this is certainly a good thing.
With the kind of scenes wünderkind writer/director Tommy Wirkola has created, it would have been a disaster not to shoot some of the more outrageous scenes the way Weston did - and he makes it look damn good. The cinematography, the sound design, the special effects and the make-up have all been heavily lauded by a surprisingly united national press - to the point where certain reviewers have stated that it might not be their cup of tea, but damn, it looks good.
Just don't expect too much of the story. I mean, evil Nazis frozen for sixty years return to wreak havoc on the picturesque snow-covered mountains, and eat the entrails of the living, and only a group of inept medical students, in way over their heads, can stop them? The premise screams "So bad it's good", but it's intentional; after all, Wirkola's feature debut, Kill Buljo, was a practically no-budget outrageous parody that became a solid mainstream cult hit. Within the context of the film, the narrative works surprisingly well, and certainly kept me on the edge of my seat, with my constant intervals of laughter and exclamations of "Eeeew!" The set-ups are often very simple, but the pay-off is worth it almost every time. I agree with the general consensus in the io9 comments that the backhouse sex-scene was pretty filthy, but it worked within the parameters of the outrageous plot and with its slightly twisted character archetypes.
Suffice to say, this is a priceless gem you'll probably not want to miss if you can catch a screening of it. It will undoubtedly be available on DVD one way or the other, and I really hope you will be able to see it - this is one piece of my cultural heritage I'd really like to share.
Oh, and sorry, but this is a running-zombies film. But I think you'd agree with me that although the director definitely refer to the creatures as zombies, I'd categorize them as something else. Or maybe I've just owned too many editions of the Monster Manual, I don't know.