Monday, May 25, 2009
DEAD SNOW (2009)
DEAD SNOW comes to us from Norway, and as an example of the ever-endurable Nazi zombie sub-genre, it fits squarely between the best (SHOCK WAVES) and the worst (ZOMBIE LAKE, which still manages to entertain, thanks to an inane script and tasty underwater photography.) Plot-wise, the film contains just enough to arrive at its raison d'etre: Nazi zombies who stalk and ultimately slaughter a group of vacationing medical students, who inadvertently trifle with the treasure once sought by the then-living soldiers.
If I have my cinematic lore down right, Nazi zombies typically dwell underwater, usually off of some Carribean island, where some nefarious war-time plot went awry. (For an excellent literary treatment of this kind of plot, see Robert McCammon's early 80s novel, NIGHT BOAT.) In DEAD SNOW, Stig Frode Henriksen and Tommy Wirkola substitute snow for water, resulting in some striking images, as the effective make-up designs jump out against the white back-ground. Already lethal, the zombies (who, in one hallmark scene, pull a character's head apart, causing his brain to plop on the floor) become all the more ominous thanks to this imagery.
Yet, the film-makers still fall into the tiresome habit that we see in other recent horror movies: that of name-dropping the films and film-makers that inspired them. If we couldn't already see the influence of EVIL DEAD, the characters make damn sure that we understand the importance of that film as they discuss it at the beginning. In fact, one of the last standing characters calls Ash to mind both in his physical characteristics and in his extreme survival techniques. Such self-referencing blunts the impact the film could have had, as does the general lack of character development. DEAD SNOW still stands as one of the better examples of its sub-genre, but SHOCK WAVES it ain't.