Wade on Birmingham

Sidewalk 2009: Zombies über alles


Movie review: ‘Dead Snow’

By Kenn McCracken

Review at a glance: “Dead Snow” bills itself as “Nazi zombies!” but actually delivers on the right mix of laughs and scares in a frozen horror show.

Dead Snow - Død snø

A scene from “Dead Snow.”

Any horror/comedy fan knows that it’s a tough existence: For every success — “Evil Dead II,” “Shaun of the Dead” — a hundred clones fail to deliver on one or both genres.

Wade on Birmingham - Sidewalk Moving Picture FestivalYou’re in for a treat with “Dead Snow” (“Død snø”), a Norwegian import with English subtitles that successfully combines the jumps and gore of zombie movies with a dead-on wry wit.

The movie screens Saturday at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.

As with many horror/comedies, the laughs are provided by the human victims, while the scares are doled out at the hands and teeth of zombies. Director Tommy Wirkola’s film is closer in tone to the Sam Raimi films than “Shaun of the Dead.”

And yet it’s a near-perfect mix of tones for the story approach: a very linear recipe of all the tropes you’d expect from a zombie film, but less slick and predictable (in some ways) than your average Hollywood pic.

It’s surprising that there aren’t too many horror films shot against snowy locales. Not only does the blood show up much more spectacularly against the bleak white, but also a haunting beauty to the endless fields of snow and leafless trees emerges.

And seriously, why did it take someone so long to use the idea of Nazi zombies?

The most noticeable problems will jump out, so to speak, to non-horror fans: a lack of character development in some spots, and a total disregard for the realities of human biology. The squeamish should probably avoid this film, as the effects are convincing enough, and the fake blood is used quite liberally.

We zombie-movie buffs are OK with bodies as fodder. When it occasionally lends to the humor, as it does in some scenes, all the better.

Make 2 hours in your schedule available for “Dead Snow,” an excellent example of a slightly left-of-center indie film made with talent and skill. It’s a damned good cross between laughs and scares, in a niche I wrongly thought would have run its course by now.

Kenn McCrackenKenn McCracken (@insomniactive) is a director and an award-winning screenwriter (2005 Sidewalk Sidewrite grand prize, “Muckfuppet”).

He’s also a writer (Birmingham Weekly, Spin.com, mental_floss), a bassist for the Exhibit(s), an eight-time cat juggling champion for Malta and an ongoing experiment in sleep deprivation. He occasionally steals your best ideas to claim at his blog, Dairy of a Madman.

“Dead Snow” will screen at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Alabama Theatre. Opening shorts are “Karaoke Show” and “A Healthy Smile.”

Video: Trailer for “Dead Snow”

Video: A scene from “Dead Snow”


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