Dead Snow 2 played to a sold-out crowed at Toronto After Dark 2014, and from what I’ve been told, the crowd loved it. I loved it too, and so did contributor Mitch Reaves. Mitch is helping me out a bit, and below is his review of the film. Jeff will be back later with more from the ground-floor of the event, and I will have a couple more reviews today myself. I hope you’re enjoying our coverage of the 2014 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
When director Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow (Dod Sno) was nearing it’s US release in 2009 after what felt like an eternity, there were some pretty high expectations for it. Horror sites had been covering it heavily, and many people, myself included, couldn’t wait for a chance to see it. When it finally did hit, as with any movie with so much hype surrounding it, it seemed to fail to meet some viewers’ expectations. It delivered the gore, there’s no denying that, but I think the comedic elements were maybe a bit unexpected for some. Fast foward to 2014 and the sequel, appropriately titled “Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead” has arrived, and it does everything a sequel is supposed to do. There’s more comedy, more Nazi zombies, and more splatter gore than you can hurl your own entrails at.
The gruesome army of awakened Nazi Zombies from fan favourite DEAD SNOW once again return to terrorize the Norwegian countryside! In this crowd-pleasing zombie action comedy follow-up, Martin, the sole survivor of the first movie, must join forces with an American zombie hunter (cult favourite FREAKS AND GEEKS’ Martin Starr) and a reanimated squad of dead Russians if he is to try to defeat the undead Nazi horde and their evil commander!
When we left off, the lone survivor of Dead Snow, Martin, had just planted an axe in his girlfriend’s neck, chainsawed his own arm off, and watched his friends get ripped apart by a bunch of Nazi zombies, led by Standantenfurher Herzog, who were after stolen Nazi gold the group had come across while vacationing in a cabin. Dead Snow 2 picks up at the exact moment the first ends, with Martin narrowly escaping the zombies before crashing the getaway car and ending up hospitalized, and in the custody of authorities. As if that weren’t bad enough, the arm that he personally severed with the chainsaw had been surgically replaced with Herzog’s own arm. Martin manages to escape, but not before murdering the policeman tasked with watching over him, due to his inability to control his new Nazi appendage. Meanwhile, Herzog has amassed a new army, and is looking to complete a decades old order from Hitler himself to wipe out an entire town of Norwegian Nazi haters. Aided by a self-professed group of American zombie experts calling themselves the “Zombie Squad”, Martin must find a way to put a stop to Herzog once and for all.
I honestly lost count of how many times I said the words “oh shit” while watching Dead Snow 2. Everything about it works, the comedy isn’t forced (save for possibly the “Zombie Squad” who are worth a groan or two), and the gore is ridiculously over the top, but in a good way. Think Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive” and you’re on the right track. The cast all perform well, particularly Vegar Hoel as Martin, and Orjam Gamst as Herzog. Gamst in particular is fun to watch, as his facial expressions are often hilarious as he reacts accordingly to the absurdity he’s surrounded by. Dead Snow 2 is also a much brighter film, whereas the first took place primarily on a snowy mountain, with lots of dark shots, Red vs Dead is set mostly in a much more rural locale, with lots of daytime action. It makes it easier to appreciate just how badass Herzog and company look, with the impressive work by the effects department.
As a fan of the first Dead Snow, I have to admit to being surprised at how the sequel surpasses it in almost every way. It’s as if Wirkola looked at the first film and then turned every single knob up to 11, undoubtedly due to the fact that after the success of the original, he had more money to work with this time. Everything you loved, or hated, is here again and is even more over the top. It’s a hilariously, disgustingly gory good time. Fans of the first will absolutely love it, but others shouldn’t be looking to have their minds changed. If you’re looking for a few laughs with your Nazi zombie themed splatterfest, look no further.