Dead Snow (2009 and 2014) Horror Film Review: Two Films One Review

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This weekend I watched the second Dead Snow film. It had been over two years since I watched the first film, so a second viewing of that film was also in order. I have to say that this is one of the rare cases where the sequel was better than the original. Since I think many of the improvements were due to a larger budget that gave them the opportunity to make a better film, I will try to not unnecessarily hate on the first film.

The first film was made with a great plan in mind. Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola decided to bring back the Nazi Zombie films of the 70’s and 80’s and modernize them by capitalizing on the horror/comedy craze that has been huge since the release of Shaun of the Dead. My issues with the film are that there was nothing truly original here. It was a zombie movie about six college kids on vacation and that’s kinda how every horror film begins. I also didn’t like the fact that I had to read subtitles. Not because I can’t read, but because understanding comedy has a lot to do with understanding the language, slang, comedic timing, intonation, etc.. I also read somewhere that the zombies were partly inspired by mythological demons that protected treasures. This is fine, but since all of these zombies were chasing down their gold, I kinda felt like I was watching a Leprechaun movie. I may be stretching this and sounding completely insane, but that is all I could think about while watching this.

The best part of the film was the violence, of course that should be the best part of any film involving zombies. There are creative kills and great gore effects. I love the part where the guy was sewing his neck wound back together. He made Rambo look like a little bitch. The zombies also looked great. They had a different look, because they had been frozen underground for years. At the end, when they come up out of the snow it is cool visual, different from the classic scenes of the zombies rising up from the dirt that we grew up with. My favorite part of the film, however, is the unexpected plot twist with the main character and his girlfriend at the end. It was definitely the most original plot point in the entire movie and it will surprise most viewers. So although it probably isn’t a movie I would purchase, or even return to for that matter, it was still a pretty good time in the end.
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The second film was better and I’m sorry to say that is because it was in English. It was just easier to understand the dialogue, jokes, and the context in which they were being told. It also helped that it was full of nerd humor and great satirizing of the modern day American zombie craze. Aside from better jokes, there was also even more gore than the first film. Now some will complain that there was some CGI blood, but there was still plenty of the “real” stuff to quiet some of the haters.

Once again, my biggest problems with this film were originality issues. I felt like the opening sequence of the film, the main character’s transformation from nerd to bad ass, right down to him having to remove his own arm (which eventually becomes possessed) just screams Evil Dead 2. This isn’t a terrible thing because Evil Dead 2 is one of my favorite horror movies and easily my favorite sequel of all time. I just don’t understand why the writer/director had to make his “borrowing” so obvious. I don’t know, make his leg possessed instead.

It is hard for me to write reviews without giving too much away, especially if I actually think you should see the film. These aren’t my favorite zombie films, but I do have to say they are pretty damn fun to watch. I would give the first film a 6 and the sequel a 7. You may think you shouldn’t bother seeing a 6, but that actually makes this movie worth checking out. When I rate films, I tend to put them up against other films within their sub-genre. This means these films have some huge zombie classics with which to compete. The good thing for Dead Snow is that there are tons of awful zombie films out there that it can easily put to shame. At a 7/10, the sequel is a solid film that every zombie fan should see. But hey, they are both on Netflix. So you may as well watch them both, in order, and in one sitting.

Stay dead-ucated my friends!

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