There’s a critical flaw at the heart of the Norwegian horror comedy Dead Snow that keeps it from being the absolute classic Shaun of the Dead-style schlock send-up it comes so close to achieving. For some strange reason the film stubbornly likes to pretend that its audience doesn’t know what is coming. Despite the exact nature of its threat being spoiled in every last piece the film’s advertising, Dead Snow keeps its monsters in the dark for as long as possible. Anyone likely to watch the movie in the first place would presumably be interested solely because of the gimmick of its monsters, so withholding them from the screen doesn’t build tension. It feels more like treading water.
Since I’ve already hinted to the “surprise” in the illustration above & it’s much more explicitly laid out in the film’s promotional material, I’ll just go ahead & spill the beans. Dead Snow is about Nazi zombies. It’s a Nazi zombie horror comedy. Since most of the audience is already prepared for that premise from the get go, it becomes increasingly frustrating that we don’t see a zombie Nazi in full regalia until 2/3 into the film. As if the promo material weren’t enough to prime you for the “surprise” there’s an ominous monologue from a local yokel that spins a yarn about a bygone Nazi occupation & some stolen gold that sets up a Leprechaun type scenario where the doomed victims are bound to unwittingly “steal” some Nazi treasure that the undead fascists will undoubtedly come knocking for. When the first fully visible Nazi zombie appears on the screen I was expecting to shout “Awesome!” but instead it was more of a “Finally!”
Despite the little bit of pained effort it takes to get there, Dead Snow eventually delivers on its promise of Nazi zombie mayhem & the film devolves into some great splatter-soaked chaos. With references to films like Peter Jackson’s Braindead (aka Dead Alive) & every group-of-youngsters-murdered-in-a-cabin horror cheapie ever, Dead Snow is smart to go over the top once it finally delivers on its premise. Eyes are gouged, head are crushed, a vast army of undead Nazi scumbags are gunned down & ripped to shreds. It’s a truly fun release after a very slow build that unnecessarily tests the audience’s patience before it lets loose. I’m hoping that since the hammer has already fallen that the same mistake wasn’t repeated in the sequel, last year’s Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead. If it just would get to the good, bloody stuff a little quicker, a Dead Snow movie could easily go from “pretty good” to something much more special.