Oct 17, 2009

Dead Snow (2009): B

With the possible exception of Planet Terror, Dead Snow might be the dorkiest zombie film ever made, and I say that in praise. While the pre-credits opening – a hilariously self-aware, subversive chase scene scored to “In the Hall of the Mountain King” – stands as an easy comedic high point, that the rest of the movie holds up in comparison further underscores the overall stability and sly invention of the genre-riffing glee that is to follow. One of the few existing members of the Nazi zombie subgenre, this otherwise traditional tale revels in both the archetypal and schematic even as its violent means of dispatching both villains and protagonists proves more unpredictable than not. A group of medical students – played by an able cast, wisely straight-faced against the surrounding absurdity – finds themselves under attack during a weekend getaway at an isolated cabin deep in the snow covered mountains of Norway. Though well-equipped with movie-centric knowledge on how to survive such a confrontation – provided via a cinephiliac character whose T-shirt of choice proves an ominous bit of foreshadowing (all that’s missing is a baby) – they prove too heavily outnumbered by the squadron of the undead (which still operates according to rank, a humorous touch sadly not maximized to further effect) to simply stay put. Modestly ambitious and highly successfully within its chosen territory, Dead Snow proves to be one of the punchiest horror flicks in recent memory and one of the more capable within its low-budget constraints; the silent, lifeless landscapes make for a chilling tension-builder between each over-the-top set piece, while a memorable third-act shot of a character trapped beneath the snow is more nightmarishly claustrophobic than anything in The Descent. For the title of Best Zombie Comedy of 2009, Zombieland has a worthy competitor.

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