Friday, November 8, 2013

Why Dead Snow is One of the Greatest Horror Films of our Time.

I was a little reluctant to watch Dead Snow. Netflix had been shoving it into a couple of my suggestion lists with only a movie poster thumbnail and a brief description to to convince me. Looking at this poster, I anticipated the movie being a poorly written film by some independent film makers who received a small chunk of change to make a bloody zombie flick. The poster felt too comical and shoved the idea of "hey we like Evil Dead and you do too" down your throat. Lucky for me, I decided to hit play anyway and never looked back.

Here are my top 7 reasons why Dead Snow is an amazing horror film:

1. Believable Characters - Lets face it, most horror movies contain a small group of guys and gals that go to high school. Why high school? Variety. You can have a football player, a cheerleader, a nerd, a stoner etc. all in one place with a reason to interact with each other. In real life, these melting pots of high school interests don't hang out! If high school horror movies were realistic, it would be a group of football players, or a bunch of nerds all together and so on. Fortunately, Dead Snow stars a cluster of College-attending Med Students. Hey look, smart people going camping! And they all share classes together and therefor hangout with each other a lot! Plus each character has their own unique personality and great depth.
Hanna, Chris, Liv
Hollywood has this nasty habit of making you dislike people that will die in the movie. In Dead Snow you can't help but like each character. Although at some points you get a little annoyed with Martin, the med student who can't stand the site of blood, but he shows his worth and actually ends up living the longest. Not only do the writers give realistic lives to these characters, but the actors ability to portray realistic emotions during the waves of Nazi zombie attacks really help sell the movie. Writing about it would not do it any justice.

I have a very important note about the character of Vegard. Vergard is the good looking young guy who leaves the cabin to find his girlfriend who had decided to hike to the cabin instead of drive like the rest of the girls. THIS MAN IS NOT REAL. To take this movie semi-seriously you have to take all of Vergard's actions as comic relief. Nothing he does has any effect on the other characters and most of his encounters with zombies are alone. Granted, he does mow down a charging group of zombies, that are headed towards his friends, with his machine gun but I believe those came from Vergard's comic book portion of reality. Most of the film we find Vergard stumbling on dead bodies, boxing zombies, hanging cliffside from zombie intestines as well as biting nazi's back. He also manages to acquire a machine gun that mounts to his snowmobile. Kick ass, but NOT REAL. Remember that.

If Vergard doesn't count.... who's driving?
2. Banter: The banter is spot on. No setting up for anything later, or making you like/dislike a character any more or less. Just typical "shooting-the-shit" about movies and games and travel. I was watching it and thinking "I would say that to my friends"; that really brought me into the film. Simple as that.


3. Historic Storyline: Taking place in Norway gave the story a great way to add Nazi zombies to the equation and for no one to question it. A small history lesson is given to the audience by a passing by woodsman, who was drawn in to the cabin from the cold with the thought of a warm cup of coffee. The Nazi's did occupy Norway and the tale of a town overthrowing them and forcing them into the snowy hills makes a great precursor for cave dwelling Nazi zombies. I keep saying zombies but Norway actually has a term for the specific type of reanimated corpse portrayed in the movie. They refer to these "zombies" as Draugrs, which in doing so label them as these fast,strong, semi-brain functioning zombies that America has welcomed to hollywood in the past decade.

Erland aka Two Face
4. GOORRRYY: I love gore, mostly to see the new original ways FX artists are finding to kill an actor. The methods of death in Dead Snow are awesome. For all the gory B-horror fans, you can't get nastier with this movie. I felt the use of intestines was in an overabundance throughout the film, but my favorite killing makes up for it. At one point, five of our characters are spooked by some zombie antics while they are safe in their cabin. As Erland, our overweight movie buff, gets scared he backs up to a window of the cabin only to be grabbed by a Nazi on the other side of the window. Two more join in to pull Erland halfway out of the window. As one grips his head, it starts to push it's fingers into Erlands eyes and mouth. With one clean pull, Erlands head is ripped in half and a juicy wet brain plops on the ground. Holy hell.

Another part of the movie that made my stomach ache was a scene close to the end when we find our female character Liv(irony?) running from zombies alone. She ends up getting knocked out and the screen goes black. We return to a first person view from Liv's perspective. Normally with this shot we see tress extending high into the sky, and a protagonist leans over the groggy blackout victim saying something clever or "that was a close one". This is not the Dead Snow way. We awake to Liv's first person view, clouded by blood. She looks down only to see two zombies on their knees, slowly and curiously pulling intestines out of the hole that has been made in her stomach, she's still alive. As I'm wondering if the screen will go black again or if someone might show up to save Liv, her vision slowly moves to the hand grenade she pulled off of a past zombie. Goodbye zombies. Goodbye Liv.

Erland and Chris (photo enhanced)
5. Realistic Sex: There is a sex scene. By scary movie law, the people that have sex must die. This is one of the scary movie formulas that stays strong in Dead Snow, but not entirely. The sex scene starts by Erland, pre-zombie face ripping, going to the outhouse to take care of business.... to shit. With a few drinks in her, Chris, the pretty-darn-attractive single girl, tails him to the outhouse and surprises him by entering mid poo.... he then returns the favor ZING! But seriously, she begins to straddle him on the outhouse toilet and they go at it. It isn't glorified with soft lighting or sexy camera angles. Just heavy breathing with a little light coming through the cracks of the outhouse wood. Not to mention Erlands consistent "I cannot believe this is happening to me" face. A hilarious part is right when they start kissing on the toilet. Erland had just wiped and Chris sits down and grabs his fingers to suck on them and Erland frantically says "No!". Fortunately for everyone, Chris continues and for some strange scat fetish reason, it makes the scene 5x hotter. I also might be in love with Jenny Skavlan now(Chris).

Martin and Roy
6. Ode to Evil Dead: As I assumed by looking at the movie poster, the creators are fans of Evil Dead II. Not only does Erland the movie buff mention it in the film, there is an amazing fast-edit Rami sequence when the two men, Martin and Roy, are equipping themselves in the tool shed. Of course grabbing the chainsaw. I also liked that the chainsaw went to the one-armed guy... although his "unarming"occurs post-chainsaw.

7. Perfect Ending: Everybody dies! Isn't it great? Nothing upsets me more when stories of ghosts and zombies and monsters, that have been killing for hundreds of years, are vanquished by some idiot high school kid. I don't buy that, I buy this! Death! Hooray!
UPDATE: Turns out Martin was never killed although scenes leading up to the credits might suggest that. Martin escapes the car zombies and ends up being the star in Dead Snow 2!

Bottom line. Watch this movie. Did I mention there are subtitles? There are, so you can tell everyone you read a film today.