Dead Snow (UK - BD RB)
Nazi zombies! Marcus grins at the visuals and happily at the movie too!
A group of friends head off to the mountains near Øksfjord to have a bit of fun on the slopes while Vegard (Lasse Valdal—who looks a hell of a lot like Hayden Christensen) waits for his girlfriend to arrive back from her skiing trip.
Having plenty of snowball fights, drinks and classic movie conversations the friends are all loving their snowy cabin break, but when a slightly mental, very weird hiker (Bjørn Sundquist) arrives at their cabin in the middle of the night and tells tales of local villagers in the second world war chasing the Nazi's into these very mountains and how strange things have been happening around these parts recently, a fun snowy break becomes a lot more messy.
Dead Snow takes it's time to really get going, but when it does it's a horror I watched with a smile stretched right across my face. With it's cheap as chips Norwegian low budget (that in all honesty can look akin to kids' TV dramas with its lighting and filmmaking) and tongue in cheek approach to its killings, it's hard not to enjoy the ride.
Essentially, and not to give too much away, this latest twist on the zombie premise is a mix of Pirates of the Caribbean and classic mummy tales and while the explanation in the movie gets you straight to the point, it's almost entirely unnecessary. After all you throw zombies in the snow at me and I'm interested straight away, you put them in Nazi uniforms and suddenly it becomes a compulsory watch, just on the WTF value alone, even without an explanation of how and why they got there. Hell, I would have swallowed radioactive snow or saying Adolf Hitler three times in the mirror just as much as long as the end result was zombie Nazis.
With a character brandishing a Braindead T-shirt you know from pretty early on what's being promised and I've gotta say it delivers. With oodles of blood spilt, zombies being taken out left right and centre and enough in the realms of messed up visuals (innards being torn out—check, chainsawed off limbs—check, friends killed by accident—check) Dead Snow fits snugly into those kinetic single minded horrors that are all about having fun as opposed to having something to say.
The last thirty five minutes alone are worth the time you'll spend with this little gore-fest even if you roll your eyes at most of the story points getting there. Basically it comes down to this—dDo you want to see two friends, who've just obtained the contents of a fully kitted out shed, running headlong at some Nazi zombies? If your answer to this question is 'yes' (and frankly, why wouldn't it be?), then you'll no doubt have a blast with this.
I first saw Dead Snow on standard definition DVD, so going into HD I was hoping to be impressed with the large amount of the white stuff glowing off of my screen. Despite being noticeably better than the DVD, I wouldn't go as far as to say I was actually impressed with this 1080i transfer at all. It has quite the presence of digital noise and shots never look quite clean or indeed detailed enough. This is probably down to the lack of any direct sunlight on the vast mountain ranges and of course because of the small budget but generally the transfer shows off the movie's limitations more than its visual landscape.
The tell tale signs of the low budget continue with the interior scenes with most of the cabin based moments looking not unlike a high definition broadcast of a regular TV soap (and by that, I mean UK soaps). Lighting is crude at best and while it works for the most part, I just couldn't shake seeing through the illusion at how the movie was made as opposed to just enjoying it for what it was.
Considering just how small a project this was, the transfer is probably beyond what you'd expect from it, so I'm not going to knock it for what it actually achieves (the scenes with blood soaked character on the white backgrounds look pretty great on the details front) but this is a pretty average looking HD transfer when compared to others out there.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is a fairly good one and uses its dialogue and the many different rock and classical tracks on the soundtrack well. There are some issues when it comes to raw power, with many a gunshot sounding a little subdued considering the circumstances of the scenes.
Creepy night scenes fare better, as do the sharp, loud scares to make you hop out of your seat. The track widens up a bit in the closing half hour when everything from crunching snow, spurting blood and roaring chainsaws fill up the sound field but once again this comes in bursts and as with the transfer, it highlights the limitations of the movie.
The disc opens with trailers for Sorority Row, From Within and Parasomnia before reaching a menu that sells the movie's intentions immediately.
Clicking into the extras, there's a batch of trailers: Teaser (00:47), Theatrical Trailer 1 (02:27), Theatrical Trailer 2 (02:30) and UK Promo Trailer (00:27) and then we're onto the good stuff.
I'll start by saying that the extras on offer here are a blast. All come with the feel of a fun home movie, with cast and crew all being themselves or showing off for the camera. The main making of 'Ein! Zwi! Die!'(01:22:00 HD) is just the most laid back, enjoyable making of that I've watched in a while. Getting glimpses into the success of director Tommy Wirkola's previous movie Kill Buljo and then sitting in on group meetings that explain just how tight a budget Dead Snow had and how everyone is seemingly pitching in on everything to help out really brings about the sense of exciting filmmaking. The cast and crew are seemingly having a lot of fun hanging out in the snow making a movie and watching some of these scenes coming together really sparked that feeling that something special was happening on the set of this Nazi Zombie splatter fest.
Continuing on the good feeling the 'Cast and Crew at Sundance' (17:52 HD) we follow the group travelling to the festival with delayed flights and pre-screening promotion. We then get glimpses of the screening and the audience's reaction to the chainsaw scene (chuckles and applause). There's a great moment where Wirkola openly discusses his desire to make a Hollywood movie and a real sense of it being a bit of a dream of his and all in all the sense of these movie nobodies' adventure to the big time is just feel good enjoyment to watch.
Lastly there's a 'Special Effects Featurette' (03:18) which is a reel of the different elements in the shots and a 'Make Up Featuette' (06:28) which was a refreshing look at the fun side of the work as opposed to the big movie ‘all work’ approach to these talented individuals' work that most extra features play on of late.
Dead Snow is about as silly as the premise promises to be but I can't say I didn't have a blast with it. The over the top nature of it all made the movie an easy to swallow appetiser even if you'll soon forget about it once the credits roll.
The disc's features are just about as much fun as the movie itself, and despite the movie having a fairly average looking transfer the overall package excels itself when considering that low budget usually means bare bones and under-loved.
Now whether your movie collection allows for this sort of throw away fun is going to come down to your tastes but throw this movie on in a room full of slightly drunk friends and it'll be a riot. I mean, seriously. They're zombie Nazis. This is the stuff that WTF horror movies live for.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 31st August 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Tommy Wirkola
Extras: DTS HD Mater Audio 5.1Norwegian, LPCM Stereo Norwegian
Easter Egg: No
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Cast: Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Charlotte Frogner, Lasse Valdal
Genre: Comedy and Horror
Length: 88 minutes
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