Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Horror, Day 25: Dead Snow

Zombies, zombies, zombies. They seem to be a dime a dozen these days, and with some of the best zombie action happening on TV instead of the big screen, I often find it difficult to sit through yet another sluggish zombie picture. Rest assured that 2009's Dead Snow (Tommy Wirkola) is the answer to all bad things in the modern zombie canon. The premise combines all great cliches in horror: college students, a cabin in the woods, and of course, zombies. Did I mention that they're Nazi zombies?

Nazi zombies in Dead Snow

Instead of drowning in the I-can-kill-a-stranger-but-I-can't-kill-my-wife tropes of traditional zombie pictures, Wirkola has elevated his baddies to the ultimate in evil. Therefore, there's absolutely no moral dilemma in slaughtering the zombies, so the medical students (and the audience) can unabashedly delight in the violence.

The film also rewards the viewer with humorously grotesque scenes. The Norwegian cabin does not contain a bathroom, so the students must trudge through the snow to the outhouse. It's only fitting that the young Chris is pulled down into the waste by a zombie. Later, one of the students actually uses zombie entrails as a rope while dangling off of a cliff. These moments of disgusting humor lighten the tension of the violence.

But what really stands out is the solid filmmaking behind Dead Snow. Each shot is beautifully composed, utilizing the stark Norwegian winter as a stunning contrast to the black-red blood of both the human and the undead. The 35mm captures the colors with stunning contrast -- a richness so difficult to capture in digital formats. It's clear that Wirkola didn't just want to make another campy zombie movie; he adds a cinematic backbone to the classic story, a combination that makes Dead Snow stand out in a sea of repetition.

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