This Scandinavian horror flick is a pleasant surprise; it manages to flesh out (sorry) a rather gimmicky-sounding, high-concept, premise (Norwegian medical students go on Easter vacation in the mountains only to discover a bunch of Nazi zombies) to create a highly entertaining, if derivative, thrill ride.

One car of girls and one car of boys arrive on a snowy mountain range to stay in a log cabin. They have fun (alcohol! Snowball fights! Twister!), before discovering they are not alone. A crusty local soon passes by and informs the group that they are in the presence of great evil, before mysteriously ‘vanishing’. Then one dark night, shortly after discovering a box of 1940s coins and trinkets in a dusty box in the depths of the cabin, the students begin to hear noises outside the cabin. Two of them go investigate, and only one returns…

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The (decent) cast play stereotypes, rather than characters; there’s the geek (in the mould of the Jamie Kennedy character from Scream, warning the others about horror conventions, and wearing a Braindead T-shirt), the pretty cheerleader-type and the popular, and upsettingly handsome if vacuous, jock. It’s initially a little odd, maybe a trifle upsetting, that these American genre staples are rigorously adhered to in a European movie. However, it becomes clear that the movie is aiming to be more tribute than rip off.

None of this affects the blood, gore and shocks. The pacing of the splatter is admirable and wise, with half the film zipping by before we meet the zombies proper and experience any significant amount of the red stuff. And when the violence does occur, it’s done creatively and with a pleasing, but not overplayed, degree of humour.

Dead Snow is not exactly a horror-comedy, but proceedings occur with a lightness of touch and a minimum of portentousness. Nothing here is likely to cause anyone serious night terrors despite the several jump-out-of-your-seat moments scattered throughout. Neither does the movie linger unnecessarily in its gore; it’s over-the-top fun, and gross in all the right places.

It’s enjoyable Friday night entertainment. We’re never really told why the Nazis have risen again as zombies, or why they happened to be on that mountain range in the first place; neither is there any commentary on the war (which the returning of Nazis could have symbolised in a more sophisticated movie). But the film isn’t about any of this; existing as a loving tribute to American horror cinema of the late seventies and eighties, packed full of geeky references. Most importantly, it does exactly what it sets out to do, and delivers thrills aplenty.

Reviewed on: 02 Sep 2009
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Teens on vacation fall foul of a Nazi-zombie battalion.
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Tony Sullivan ***

Director: Tommy Wirkola

Writer: Stig Frode Henriksen, Tommy Wirkola

Starring: Ane Dahl Torp, Jenny Skavlan, Bjørn Sundquist, Charlotte Frogner, Stig Frode Henriksen, Jeppe Laursen, Evy Kasseth Røsten, Lasse Valdal, Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst

Year: 2009

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Norway

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