The Nazi zombies of 2009 Norwegian horror-comedy Dead Snow are back in a Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead. A film that is bigger, badder, and gorier than the original! And that goes for the jokes, too!
I’ve got a soft spot for Nazi zombie movies in general, so I’m already predisposed to like a film that features a bunch of goose-stepping, gut-munchers. Luckily, Dead Snow 2 isn’t down in the dregs with films like Zombie Lake and Oasis of the Zombies. Instead, it lands in the upper echelon of the sub-genre along with films like Shock Waves and Outpost – though the tone of the film could not be more different from these. Think Shock Waves via Shaun of the Dead with a little Three Stooges mixed in for that extra dumb physical comedy.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead picks up where the first film left off, with Simon – the sole survivor of the events in Dead Snow – fleeing Colonel Herzog and his minions. Though he manages to escape – taking Herzog’s arm off in the process – he also crashes his car. When he wakes in the hospital, he learns that he’s the main suspect in the murder of his friends. It’s not all bad news, though! They managed to save his arm – except, of course, it’s Herzog’s arm that the doctors have attached to Simon. (Simon sawed off his arm with a chainsaw during the first film in order to prevent the infection from a zombie bite to spread.)
Meanwhile, Herzog and his soldiers have come off the mountain and proceed to cut a swath across the Norwegian countryside, picking up new recruits as they go thanks to Herzog’s ability to raise the dead. Eventually, they stumble across a World War II museum and the old tank on display, of course, it’s been kept in perfect working order.
Simon, with the aid of his monstrous new arm, manages to escape police custody. The authorities don’t believe his story of Nazi zombies and curses, and he realizes he’s going to have to stop Herzog himself. Over the course of the film he gains allies, including museum employee Glenn and three American siblings who call themselves the “Zombie Squad.” Once he figures out how to control his new arm, Simon also proceeds to raise a troop of Russian POWs from the dead, leading to a final epic confrontation in a small Norwegian town.
Dead Snow 2 is a lot of fun. At its best, it manages to combine both humor and gore as when an ill-conceived attempt at CPR goes awry because Simon can’t control his new arm. You laugh as you wince. Vegar Hoel as Simon is just fantastic, possessing excellent comedic timing and managing the action sequences with aplomb. He sells the ‘average guy in extraordinary circumstances’ well, always seeming right on the edge of losing it permanently. The supporting characters do a great job of keeping up – particularly Martin Starr as Daniel, doing his best impression of the main character from Revenge of the Nerds (if that character was a massive zombie movie fan).
The special effects are also a standout, as with the first film. The set pieces and gags are both plentiful and hilarious. Not everything is quite up to snuff – some of the makeup during the climactic battle just isn’t as well done as the rest. But if something fails to entertain, just wait a few minutes and some entertaining new explosion of guts and blood is bound to turn up.
It’s not all gore and roses, however. There’s a subplot featuring a gung-ho sheriff and his crew that isn’t very good. The climactic battle sometimes looks like a bunch of grubby WWII re-enactors pushing each other around in a backyard somewhere. Some of the jokes are forced and/or just not funny – almost inevitable when a film is as packed with them as this one is.
Dead Snow 2 turns up the volume and, for the most part, succeeds in making a film that is gorier and funnier than the first. Though some of the humor falls flat and the subplot featuring a small town police force is underwhelming, the film is primarily a fantastic ride full of action, over-the-top violence and splatstick comedy.
Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters)
Stig Frode Henriksen (Dead Snow), Vegar Hoel and Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 2).
Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Kristoffer Joner, Amrita Acharia, Derek Mears, and Christian Rubeck.
Goof: Some Nazi soldiers in the film are wearing the wrong uniforms. They are wearing modern camouflage instead of the traditional WW2 uniforms.
Plot Hole: When the Soviet commander is killer, the Soviet zombies lose their power but they were resurrected by Martin, so they should be connected to Martin not the Soviet commander.