27th Oct2014

Celluloid Screams 2014: ‘Dead Snow 2′ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Stig Frode Henriksen, Martin Starr, Vegar Hoel, Orjan Gamst, Amrita Acharia, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Derek Mears, Kristoffer Joner, Christian Rubeck, Charlotte Frogner | Written by Stig Frode Henriksen, Tommy Wirkola, Vegar Hoel | Directed by Tommy Wirkola

dead-snow-2-herzog

Over the years there has been a boom in Norwegian horror with films like Dark Woods, Manhunt, Cold Prey and it’s sequels and, of course, Tommy Wirkola’s Nazi zombie epic, Dead Snow. And now comes the sequel, Dead Snow 2: Red or Dead, which picks up directly where the last film ended. For those that don’t remember, the original film saw a group of horny teens head out to a cabin miles from nowhere, high up in the snowy Norwegian mountains, with no cell phone reception and no car. Being typical movie teens the gang indulge in all the usual “horror movie teenager” behaviour: sex, booze and partying. However their partying is interrupted by a gang of Nazi zombies who cut a swathe through the gang in order to retrieve their stolen gold.

Now by the end of Dead Snow leading man Martin had accidentally killed his girlfriend, chopped of his zombie-infected arm and made his escape. However Herzog and his army of Nazi soldiers weren’t defeated that easily… Waking up in hospital after crashing his getaway car in the mountains, Martin discovers he’s blamed by police for the deaths of his friends, he’s had Herzog’s severed arm attached to his shoulder by mistake. Oh,and he now has the zombie creating power! Thankfully that zombie-creating power comes in handy when Herzog’s dead army advance towards the small town of Tarvik and he must resurrect the Nazi leader’s most hated Russian adversaries for the deadliest and bloodiest battle yet.

I distinctly remember walking out from the Frightfest screeening of the original Dead Snow saying that director Tommy Wirkola would be the horror talent to watch. I even listened in awe at the press wall as he described his plans for his next movie, which would eventually become Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters – a near-perfect action-adventure take on the classic fairytale which I adore, an opinion which seems to be in the minority. So… With all that being said, it’s safe to say I was REALLY looking forward to Dead Snow 2. I most-definitely had high expectations, so maybe that’s why I came away from the screening feeling a little let down.

Don’t get me wrong, Dead Snow 2 is a great sequel, I just felt that Wirkola and co. were almost filling contractual obligations with it. The playful charm of the first film has been replaced with more generic nerd-centric jokes and the outlandish gore has gone out the window, replaced by the more generic kills we’re used to seeing in zombie movies (and TV) these days. The ridiculousness of the “intestine rope” of the first film gets played out here with a number of disembowelments which, whilst heavy on the gore, feel like they’re just a carbon copy of the first movie.

Whilst the addition of Martin Starr is a welcome one (I’m a big fan of his droll delivery and dry wit), the idea of the Zombie Squad seems like it was shoe-horned into the movie just to give Martin some support and to have a fighting chance against Herog and his undead cronies. Despite the additions to the cast, this is still Vegar Hoel’s film – his performance is key to why Dead Snow 2 works even in it’s most average moments. Much like his character, Martin, had to find his inner strength to take on the zombie hordes, Hoel has seemingly found his inner actor, upping his game considerably: so much so that if I didn’t recognise him from the first film, I could have easily thought Wirkola had re-cast the role.

Dead Snow 2: Red or Dead is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it’s head and shoulders above the majority of the US zombie flicks we’ve reviewed. It’s just that it’s not Dead Snow. That film came out of left field and surprised everyone with it’s mix or gore, laughs and charm. Here we get the gore and the laughs but, at least for me, some of the charm has gone.

*** 3/5

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