There are two universally despised groups throughout humanity: Nazis and zombies. You won’t find anyone within the world of generalized sanity to defend those two groups, go ahead and try. I dare you. So what would happen if you combined the two? What if you had zombies that were Nazis? As usual, Netflix instant has the answer. You’d have Dead Snow, a Norwegian film from the minds of writer/director Tommy Wirkola and writer Stig Frode Henriksen.
Dead Snow is framed as every other teenage getaway horror movie you’ve ever seen. A group of young people travel to a secluded cabin in search of some much earned debauchery. The rest is a step-by-step procedural filled with archetypes and set pieces that we all know. The crazy old man who stops in to warn of doom whilst dropping some much needed plot points, the cabin with a cellar, and, of course, the cocky teenagers who are confident that nothing bad will ever happen to them. It’s all here, and in this specific case, completely brilliant.
Dead Snow knows that you’ve seen this movie before and instead of rehashing everything with a blind seriousness it takes its time winking to the audience. Basically stopping to say, “I know you’ve seen this, but isn’t it a hell of a lot of fun?” And in the case of Dead Snow, it really is. It takes the familiar and amps it up to the point of near parody. I say near parody, because it never really mocks the formula as much as lovingly pokes at the familiar structure while raising the stakes to a bloody ridiculousness that can’t help but make a life long horror fan smile.
In a particularly meta moment in Dead Snow a character asks, “Why do we play this game?” and gets the response, “Because Hollywood told us it’s so much fun.” That really encapsulates what Dead Snow is about. This particular horror formula has been done again and again, and then again, seeming to be Hollywood’s go to horror plot. Put a group of young, pretty people in a remote location and watch them die. It would be easy to be cynical about this, but for its part Dead Snow prefers to take the more optimistic route and embraces the ridiculousness of the formula. It embraces it so energetically that a wondrously cartoonish gore fest explodes through the tired formula. And through it all they managed to answer the age old question: “can a snow mobile destroy a Nazi zombie?”.