I watched and reviewed COLD PREY a couple of weeks ago, and I caught DEAD SNOW at Sundance this past weekend. Both films are from Norway, and both films share a few striking similarities:
A group of 20-somethings escape to the mountains of Norway for Easter weekend.
The youths are stranded at a secluded building deep in the icy mountains.
While stranded, everybody drinks lots of alcohol and constantly references American horror movies like the EVIL DEAD trilogy or THE SHINING in common conversation.
A character is catastrophically injured (falling off a snowy cliff; a compound leg fracture), only to miraculously return to the action moments later.
And lastly, the youths’ attempts to have sex generally end in tragedy.
So what’s different about DEAD SNOW? Well, honestly, both films are so similar, it all comes down to the scariness of the villain. In one corner you’ve got your hooded pick-axe killer from COLD PREY. Hey, a pick-axe is a scary weapon, it’s all phallic and everything, and getting stabbed hurts really bad. So there, the pick-axe killer. And then in the other corner you’ve got the Nazi zombies from DEAD SNOW, who are scary for the first 40 minutes when they hang back in the shadows, but once Captain Herzog and his cadre of undead soldiers are exposed to the light of a blustery winter day, you can see that their zombie make-up isn’t that scary after all. But they DO bite big chunks of flesh out of people, which is pretty harsh. Kind of a toss-up.
DEAD SNOW attempts to throw a few SHAUN OF THE DEAD-inspired moments of comedy into the mix, and a few of them fly, but most of them don’t. The gore fluctuates between bad-ass and non-existent: there’s a cool dismemberment scene, and if there’s any reason to see DEAD SNOW it’s for its head-tearing scene, but the filmmakers end up bailing on the gore potential of some of the kills, and when the remaining Norwegians take up armfuls of power tools to face the zombies head on, it’s too much CGI, too late. (For the record, I’m behind Mr. Disgusting’s abhorrence of CGI blood.) This is standard issue Norwegian horror, if there is such a thing. DEAD SNOW is a decent time-waster, but it’s not funny enough to you laugh, not scary enough to make you cringe, and too derivative to be truly memorable.