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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Dead Snow


Starring: Charlotte Frogner, Ørjan Gamst, Stig Frode Henriksen and Vegar Hoel
E1 Entertainment
RRP: £22.99
Certificate: 18
Available 31 August 2009

Seven medical students decide to spend their vacation up a mountain in a cabin; things are going well until a stranger appears in the middle of the night to warn them of an evil which stalks the mountainside. Although they scoff at his tales of terror it is not long before they too must face the true horror of zombie Nazis...

Dead Snow (2009 - 1 hr, 27 min, 40 sec) is a comedy horror film directed by Tommy Wirkola who co-wrote the script with Stig Frode Henriksen. The film is not dissimilar to Shaun of the Dead (2004) in its reverent irreverence to the zombie genre and will appeal to the same audience. It has such a silly premise, which is executed with its eye firmly on comedy, that it works better than it really should. The film was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews.

The plot is paper thin, but what did you expect from a Nazi zombie film? The movie opens with one of the party Sara (Ane Dahl Torp), who had gone ahead being chased by an unknown assailant. When the others finally arrive we are given just enough time to get to know something about them before they get dispatched in many inventive ways. Once again, for this type of a film, it isn’t a problem. Who wants to know about the existential angst of the characters when we just want to see them kill or be killed.

One of the things I did like about the film was the decision to highlight that all the human characters had undergone some army training, I presume that they still have conscription in Norway. This allows the film makers to give their characters a fighting chance, rather than be little more than zombie fodder. This then expands the type of interaction between heroes and zombies. At points in the film you almost feel that they have a fighting chance. So Hanna (Charlotte Frognor), Vegard (Lasse Valdal), Chris (Jenny Skavlan) and Liv (Evy Kasseth Røsten) all stand some chance against Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) and his zombie troops. But let’s face it none of us wants the good guys to win in a zombie movie, so it’s no great surprise as one by one they shuffle off this mortal coil.

The acting is adequate for the film, after all this isn’t Shakespeare and none of the performances are wooden and unconvincing. There are two characters that I particularly enjoyed. Martin (Vegar Hoel) and Roy (Stig Frode Henriksen) fulfil similar roles to Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost), if anything I thought they were funnier. As well as comedy, the film does not stint on gore with anything from a buzz saw to scythes being used to off the zombies, on top of that you get insane snow mobile rides in this helter skelter of a film.

The Blu-ray is pin sharp, which is just as well as in the mountains there is a lot of strong whites and blacks. Colour reproduction and detail are impressive also. One of my main concerns was how well the fake blood and zombie makeup would fare in this level of detail only to find it does just fine.

The film is presented in Norwegian with either a DTS-HD Master Audio or 2.0 stereo tracks. The audio achieves some nice separation and bass response; both tracks have the option for English subtitles.

There is a fair selection of extras, all of which are in Norwegian with English subtitles. The disc kicks off with the entertaining Ein! Zwei! Die!: The Making of Dead Snow (48 min, 57 sec) with various members of the cast and crew talking about the film. Being an independent production the participants are refreshingly more honest compared to similar features produced by big studios. Next up is a piece featuring the Cast and Crew at Sundance (17 min, 52 sec), in English and Norwegian, with the guys home movie of their trip to the film festival. These things are a bit like funny stories - okay, but you feel that you had to be there to really get it. Mind you I did like the Nazi zombies handing out flyers and scaring the locals.

Being a zombie movie it has features on the Special Effects (3 min, 18 sec) and the Makeup (6 min, 28 sec), both of which were top notch and deserve special praise. The disc is rounded off with four trailers for the film.

If the film is taken on its own merits and avoiding pretensions about some movies being other than entertainment, as a zombie comedy, it works really well, so much so that I watched it twice, now that can’t be bad.


Charles Packer

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