Dead Snow opens with a bunch of teenagers going to a cabin in the woods. They notice this, and after realizing that their cell phones aren’t getting reception, they decide to name other movies that have a similar premise. One notes Friday the 13th, another, the first two Evil Dead movies. Finally, one of them mentions 1984’s April Fool’s Day. If at this point, you’re guessing that horror clichés will be used ad-nauseum, well, you’re right.
The first one we get are those fake jump scenes. You know the ones, where all of a sudden, there’s a loud noise and something appears on-screen, but it’s not anything threatening. Yeah, those take up most of the first half-hour of this movie. Our group encounters an elderly man who explains that their vacation cabin is situated in former Nazi territory. But they “probably froze to death”, so that means that they didn’t. Since you’ve decide to watch this movie, you have probably heard the basic idea behind it. If you haven’t, here we go.
The Nazis have managed to stay alive through the zombification process. And now they want to kill our group of medical students. One of them really likes movies, so he can give the rest the useful advice of “don’t get bitten.” The zombies decide to start attacking our main group, beginning with real jump scenes, and progressing to bloody, campy fight scenes. Really, really bloody scenes. Why do low budget horror movies like this one always decide to ramp up the gore? Are the compensating for something else? Whatever. Blood spews out of every body part, whether a character receives a minor scratch or chainsawed-off arm.
If I were to create a “what I learned from…” list about Dead Snow, topping it would be what I learned about zombies. Apparently, they’re not the bloodthirsty creatures that the movies have taught us, and instead, obey orders from higher-ranking zombies, plan, strategize, and are cautious. They’ll also wait just until the right moment to alert you to their presence, even if it wouldn’t benefit their attempt to get food — which isn’t their primary goal.
They seem like they have a lot more fun toying with their prey than actually devouring it. I’ll give you an example. One of the characters hides in a tree, but ends up in a fight with a crow, which she assumes will give away her location. Two zombies are beneath her, looking around for where she might be. After silencing the crow, she looks around and doesn’t see the zombies. Then she glances toward the trunk of the tree, and there they are, waiting for her to look down so that she’ll feel dread. They could have gotten the jump on her, but instead thought it wise to make her jump to escape.
But a lot of this was done in an attempt to be funny. At times, it succeeds. There’s one line of dialogue coupled with the situation presented that I’ll remember for a long time. One character recently fell into the bottom of an outhouse, and arose covered in excrement. When she’s missing, and the others are looking for her, one exclaims that she was very drunk and probably just passed out in the can. Different words were used, but I’m keeping my reviews family friendly, so you’ll have to figure out another word for “wasted” that involved excrement would be. That’s as much as you’re getting out of me. Needless to say, I laughed a lot at this line.
Other times though, the jokes fall flat, likely because of how hard the were trying to be funny. There’s a fine line you have to walk when trying to make something that’s genuinely scary as well as funny, and Dead Snow didn’t really accomplish either in my eyes. It’s only intermittently funny and scary, and while it’s not bad, all of the clichés ended up wearing me out. Even if done intentionally, as I assume was the case here, seeing cliché after cliché is tiring.
There are moments when the scary parts work, and there are moments where I laughed. I just felt like there weren’t enough of these moments to make it a worthwhile viewing experience. It also takes somewhere around 40 minutes before anything to happen — apart from the opening scene where someone is attacked and eaten — and even after things begin, it actually gets less frightening. The build-up is far better than the payoff here, which is unfortunate.
Now, the reasoning behind the zombie attack is explained, although it doesn’t make sense given the opening scene. Suffice to say that the teenagers do something that we’re lead to believe causes the attack, and the ending reinforces that point. So why was someone attacked in the first scene? Why had the zombies already begun their assault? Was it inevitable? I’m not sure, but I’m not questioning whether that was also part of the parody. Whatever. A plot that makes sense isn’t what you’re looking for in a horror movie.
Dead Snow is a film that worked intermittently, but didn’t wind up being all that enjoyable. The horror and comedy mixture largely didn’t work, which makes it really difficult to give this a recommendation. It also didn’t make all that much sense, although in retrospect that’s probably part of the parody that they were going for. I just didn’t have much fun here. whether it be being scared or laughing, I just didn’t get enough to make it worth my time.