June 18, 2009

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Dead Snow (NR)
Norwegian college students on spring break must fight off Nazi zombies in Dead Snow, a gory, silly horror movie.

Whatever cultural differences over beer or universal health care might exist between America and our friends in northern Europe, it’s nice to know that things like zombies and eye-squishing cross borders. And horror movie clichés — apparently, these are also universal.

After the initial requisite girl-running-through-the-woods segment that opens the film, we get to the universal setting-up-the-characters scene where we see a car full of boys and a car full of girls heading into the Arctic wilderness on their way to a cabin where they will drink and ride around on a snowmobile and pair off for some Arctic hanky panky. You’ve got your interchangeable ditzy girls (Evy Kasseth Rosten, Jenny Skavlan), your badass girl (Charlotte Frogner), your movie geek guy, your meek guy who snaps and becomes badass (Vegar Hoel) — basically all your standard group-of-kids-terrorized-by-evil character types. By the time the grizzled mountain guy (Bjorn Sundquist) shows up with his tale of evil in these here mountains, you can only hope that these kids have left clear instructions as to what should be done with their personal effects.

I should mention here that this Norwegian film isn’t subtitled, it’s dubbed. The dubbing isn’t as bad as in your spaghetti Westerns from decades past but it still adds a dusting of cheese to the affair. Not that this dusting of cheese harms the movie at all — I mean, Nazi zombies, we’re already swimming in a vat of neon orange cheesy goodness. It’s not like the actors here should be clearing space on the mantel for an Oscar. If anything, the dubbing keeps your attention where it belongs — on the gray hands popping out of the snow and the hollowed-out evil eyes beneath Wehrmacht helmets.

Dead Snow is gory but almost comically so, with a chainsaw scene that brings back images of Evil Dead and several red-corn-syrup-coated squishy things standing in for brains and guts. It is a silly movie but an enjoyable one whether you like the horror movie genre enough to laugh at it or like the horror movie genre best when it’s laughing at itself. B-

Not rated (though it is quite gory and features plenty of shots with innards and head-squishing and the like). Directed by Tommy Wirkola and written by Stig Frode Henriksen and Tommy Wirkola, Dead Snow is an hour and 30 minutes long and is distributed in limited release by IFC Films. It is available through the On Demand option on Comast cable.