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  Dead Snow 2 Gratuitous NazinessBuy this film here.
Year: 2014
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Stars: Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Hallvard Holmen, Kristoffer Joner, Amrita Acharia, Derek Mears, Bjarte Tjøstheim, Christian Rubeck, Charlotte Frogner, Jesper Sundnes, Tage Guddingsmo
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Action
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Martin (Vegar Hoel) didn't have the holiday he planned when he and his friends ventured up into the snow-covered mountains of Norway to go skiing, as they were unlucky enough to find Nazi gold in the cabin, and a platoon of actual zombie Nazis wanted it back. They were keen enough to kill for it, and Martin was the only person left from the party to survive, that in spite of having to chainsaw off his own arm when it was bitten so he wouldn't turn into one of the undead. As if that wasn't bad enough, he also accidentally axed his girlfriend to death, but he did manage to get away, speeding off into the night as Herzog, the commander (Ørjan Gamst) tried to grab him for one last coin...

The first Dead Snow was part of a subgenre of a subgenre, that being a comedy zombie movie, enjoying a warm reception from many horror fans who appreciated its director Tommy Wirkola's anything for a laugh approach. That was apparently what he thought was his strongest suit when he brought out this sequel after a dalliance with Hollywood on his Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters production, which wasn't welcomed anywhere near as happily as his zombie movie had been, the general consensus being that it wasn't that he had sold out, more that the material wasn't up to snuff. On the other hand, when this was released he was judged to be on surer ground, with quite a few viewers of the opinion it was better than the original.

There was certainly more of it, but whether it was of a higher quality was a moot point as Wirkola went all out with the bad taste in a bid to shock laughs out of his audience. He wasn't exactly John Waters, but he did amuse himself breaking various taboos, with babies getting blown up in their prams or a swearing priest being turned into a zombie in his own church, brained with his own Communion goblet, for example. But in this attempt to be edgy, the results were pitched at a rather more juvenile level than had been before, so while you may well be laughing at selected scenes, too often the gags were oversold or laboured when they should have been sprightly and witty, no matter how poor taste they were as a consequence.

Still, it wasn't all bad as the director plainly wanted to go one better than the initial instalment and offer us up his Evil Dead 2, a template this followed by casting returning star Hoel as his very own Ash. Even there was a sense of being overly fussy in concocting a mythos for his plotline, so that when Herzog's arm comes off as he grapples with Martin in the car, after the inevitable crash doctors sew the zombie arm onto Martin's stump and Herzog has the living arm of his rival placed on his body by his chief scientist (because if there was one thing missing from the first, it was mad Nazi science - truly), thereby connecting them and in addition offering the horrified hero a superpower.

Just as Herzog can bring the dead back to life to do his bidding, now Martin can do the same, trying it out on a hapless wheelchair user who died in one of the massacres (because picking on the disabled was the movie's idea of funny... hmm). But to demonstrate Wirkola knew his history, what this was leading up to was a battle royale between the Nazis and their fiercest enemies the Russians as Martin revives Soviet troops to put them in their place. In the meantime, in more evidence the movie was throwing anything at the wall to see what stuck we had a zombie killing squad who flew in from the United States with incredible speed, led by Martin Starr in his aggressive nerd role that he had honed to a fine point, and backed by two nerdettes, Jocelyn DeBoer and Ingrid Haas, the former obsessed with Star Wars in an easy target (pointing out The Empire Strikes Back was filmed around their destination, fact fans). Add in the bumbling cops and you had a mishmash somehow managing to stay coherent; you may miss the simplicity of before, while grudgingly admiring the mania on show. Music by Christian Wibe.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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