What’s even scarier than zombies? I’ll tell you what’s scarier than zombies… NAZI ZOMBIES!! This is the premise behind today’s movie, the 2009 Norwegian release, Dead Snow. It’s a good idea that I’m surprised that nobody has thought of it before, if zombies are bad and they started out as just ordinary people, then just imagine how bad the zombies would be if they started out as some of the most evil people of all time, say like a ruthless SS squad during the German occupation of Norway. Unfortunately, having come up with this one creative idea, the filmmakers decided that they needn’t do anything else creative with their plot.
The film follows a handful of generally characterless medical students on a back-country ski trip in northern Norway. The characters aren’t particularly well defined, aside from one guy who is constantly making references to other movies until he gets killed in a scene that apparently mimics a scene from the zombie movie featured on his T-shirt. Beyond that the plot could come from just about any zombie movie.
While it made an interesting gimmick I’m not sure that the fact that the zombies were zombified nazis actually made them any scarier, and it might actually have made them less scary. Part of the horror of zombie stories is the very fact that ordinary decent people have been turned into mindless, emotionless killing machines. Also, because zombies are normally portrayed as mindless and emotionless the fact the fact that they were evil bastards while they were alive doesn’t really enter into the threat they represent as undead. The film does portray these zombies as more intelligent than I’ve seen in other zombie movies, still clearly following their old commanding officer, but I think that reduces the scare-factor more than it increases it.
What I did really enjoy about this film was how visually striking it was. It’s one thing to see some special effects blood and gore, but here in contrast to the snow-covered landscape it was, if not beautiful, certainly interesting to watch.
In the end, I’d imagine one’s enjoyment of this movie will depend directly upon how much one enjoys zombie movies in general. For me, I found the interesting concept and visual appeal was just barely enough to compensate for the underdeveloped characters, plot, and general idea. It was worth seeing.