Friday, September 12, 2014

FILM REVIEW: Død Snø 2 (2014)


There's a fun moment in the new sequel of Dead Snow, from writer/director Tommy Wirkola, where one of the main characters tells the lead that he may have inadvertently helped in creating a new sub-genre with everything that has happened by the midpoint of the film, which is pretty goddamn clever. But, in an age where the zombie/comedy is growing by the horde, is being clever enough anymore? Come...let us discuss...Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead.

Before I begin my review of Død Snø 2, I would just like to say that, at the time of this writing, the film has apparently scored some kind of distribution deal as it appears in the poster above to be finally released on October 10th. So, you guys will finally see how crazy this thing is. Fortunately, my good friend Aaron Christensen of Horror 101 with Dr. AC invited me to a special screening of the new film at the Chicago Critics Film Festival earlier this year. So, I really wanted to send my deepest gratitude to Aaron for thinking of me.

The film literally picks up directly after the events of the 2009 film, after a brief recap. Vegar Hoel reprises his role of Martin, whom, by the end of the first film, has witnessed all of his friends (including his own girlfriend, whom he kills by accident...whoops) perish at the undead hands of a group of determined zombie Nazi soldiers. While you could probably go into this one cold, it would certainly only add to the experience watching the first Dead Snow  beforehand. But, it does have that brief recap that I mentioned...should you wanna just skip the first one and check this one out when it comes out. At the end of the day...it's a film about Nazi zombies...so, I'll forgive you if you decide to jettison the details in favor of all the great carnage.


Having said all of that...this film is a fucking blast. Few films I've seen this year pack this much punch into the first 10 minutes...never mind the entire running time. It's almost as if Wirkola decided that he wanted to make a pure adrenaline flick foregoing shit like common sense and believability in favor for ballsy pitch black humor involving stuff like child death, wheel-chaired mayhem, some weird gay commentary things and a bold-faced undead sex romp. Certainly the kind of stuff that fuels a Deviant's dark heart around these parts. While one could argue that it blatantly uses elements from the Evil Dead  films, Dead Snow 2  does so much to create its very own world and live in it that I'd say that all the Evil Dead  stuff feels more like a homage to those films, as Wirkola is a self-proclaimed Raimi-junkie. But, before I get ahead of myself. Let's go back to the actual premise of the film. If it could be called that.

While I won't spoil the particulars of the film, I will only say that Martin wakes up in a hospital bed with Herzog's (the crazy leader of the undead Nazi army) right forearm stitched to him instead of his own, after having a hell of a night fending off the undead zombie Nazi army we've grown to love. Because he is now the reluctant owner of Herzog's right arm, he can do all this crazy zombie magic stuff like punching holes in people and walls and just generally having all this newfound superhuman strength through the undead arm. It's a gimmick that can only exist in a film as ludicrously conceived as this one...but, it works! I don't know how Dead Snow 2  works so well...but, at such rapid fire speed...it all manages to entertain and captivate. There's even a "Zombie Squad" that Martin teams up with in order to stop Colonel Herzog from hijacking a goddamn tank and taking over the world. Or, at least Norway.

It's actually hilarious that the charm of a film concerning undead Nazi's looking to take over the world can still manage to bring something new to the genre landscape. Because...in a sea of zombie-flooded television programming and movie theaters there has to come a time when even the most forgiving horror fan throws his/her hands up and proclaims..."ENOUGH!" Well, Red vs. Dead  truly brings its own set of rules to the game. It's funny...while still be cool and dangerous. I mean, I seriously laughed out loud at certain points then, stopped to sort of look around to make sure that others were laughing, too. It's not a safe film...not even by a longshot. There are seemingly no compromises...which is always great for the genre. It's as if someone handed Wirkola a budget after the monetary success of his Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters  film...and said..."Here, Tommy...go do whatever you want."


I must say, however, that the gay stuff in the film left me a tad bothered. Fuck, I mean...I know we're openly discussing a film where a kid's chest being punched in mustered an eruption of laughter through the audience...so, how in the hell can it seriously offend? Well...funny you should ask that, my Deviant little friend. There's a character named Glenn (played by the very impressive Stig Frode Henriksen) that happens to be a closeted gay young emo dude living in a small town filled with old European traditions, and whatnot. Well...the joke here is that he keeps trying to "come out" of the closet in the most inopportune times...until, finally, *SPOILERS* the character is silenced before he can ultimately proclaim his gayness. I dunno. This kinda didn't sit well with me. I just felt that it was completely unnecessary amidst all the other crazy shit that was going on. I mean...don't get me wrong...it is the kind of film where you check common sense at the door...but, this particular character's arc just felt out of place to me. Almost as if to infer that, for whatever reason, Wirkola would rather you keep your personal beliefs to yourself.

But, still...it's a fun film for what it is. It's a lot more clever than it needs to be, the gore is aplenty and the schlocky horror stuff will go on to create a multitude of GIF's on tumblr for all of eternity. I loved most of the characters in the film, especially when the "Zombie Squad" shows up...because they could've really derailed the experience. And it certainly doesn't overstay its welcome...clocking in at a brisk 100 minutes. So, if you're looking for a deep horror film with tons of character exposition and visceral commentary...look somewhere else. But, if you crave Wirkola's most over-the-top, balls-to-the-fucking-wall effort to date...then, you've come to the right place. Død Snø 2: Red vs. Dead  is a hellfuck of a ride.



Thanks for reading,

bryan.




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