Directed by Tommy Wirkola
I did not like Dead Snow, but this isn’t a controversial stance. While its attempt at putting a twist on the zombie film was admirable, director Tommy Wirkola wanted to remind us so badly of his influences that the movie became an overloaded mess of tropes and references that made it seem like he was trying too hard to please the sort of fans who squeal with delight every time someone references George Romero. Now it’s been five years, and after one failed Hollywood outing, it’s clear that Wirkola has used this time for quiet reflection and learned from his mistakes.
Bringing us up-to-speed with a quick recap of the events of the first film, Dead Snow 2 puts the focus squarely on lone survivor Martin (Vegar Hoel). In the process of escaping from Standartenführer Herzog and his army of undead Nazis, Martin inadvertently severs the commander’s arm before wrecking his car. Upon awaking, he discovers that not only is he suspect number one in the deaths of his friends and girlfriend, he’s the proud owner of a new Nazi zombie arm, replete with super strength and other… mysterious powers, as it were.
After escaping from the hospital, he joins forces with a team of American “zombie hunters” and a local tour guide named Glen (Stig Frode Henriksen) to stop the impending Nazi zombie attack. Meanwhile, a group of small town police officers seek to make a name for themselves by finding Martin and arresting him, but little do they know the utter carnage that lies ahead.
Where the first film failed is where the second succeeds: self-awareness. Clearly influenced by Evil Dead and other slasher films (both are referenced explicitly in a bit of foreshadowing), Wirkola wanted very much for people to know from where he got his inspirations. The end result is a beautifully realized and self-deprecating film, evident by the utter insanity that occurs from moment one. No one is spared as the Nazi zombie horde rampages its way across the Norwegian countryside, steamrolling children in sandboxes with a tank and discovering more ways to kill people with intestines than thought possible. It’s Wirkola utterly reveling in the sheer ridiculousness of it all, eschewing pandering homage in favor of simply having fun.
While still laden with references – Martin’s zombified arm of the Third Reich acts remarkably similar to Ash’s from Evil Dead – it’s done in an almost self-deprecating manner, as if Wirkola is acknowledging the grievances surrounding the first film. Much of this is also seen in the scope, which finds Wirkola expanding from the confines of a cabin and a forest and into the small, yet quaint towns of northern Norway. This allows for Wirkola to introduce a host of new, varied characters that bring to the table more than just zombie fodder, though fodder many of them quite obviously wind up being. Chief among them is Martin Starr, who plays overeager zombie hunter Daniel, his slick black hair and long black trenchcoat hearkening Neo from The Matrix. Joined by the Star Wars-obsessed Monica (Jocelyn DeBoer) and Blake (Ingrid Haas), the trio are very much a caricature of the zombie-obsessed fans who spend their days figuring out ways to survive the zombie apocalypse.
Dead Snow 2 is an utterly silly film that revels in its absurdity, and that’s why it works. Any attempt at creating a horror comedy in the vein of the Evil Dead is dismissed in favor of pure humor blended seamlessly with some of the most egregious violence you’ll see in a zombie film to date. To call Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead a better film than its predecessor is an understatement, to say the least.
4 out of 5