Like so many wannabe filmmakers, Wikola tackles the ever-loved genre of zombies for his debut, but unlike most young whippersnappers, he tackles the less-popular sub-genre of Nazi zombies as found in such fun (but usually Golden Turkey) timewasters as Shock Waves (1977 / trailer), Le lac des morts vivants (1981 / trailer), Oasis of the Zombies (1981 / trailer), Night of the Zombies II (1981 / trailer), and Outpost (2008/ trailer). In fact, the basic concept behind the origin of the Nazi zombies in Dead Snow is surprisingly similar to that in Jean Rollin’s classic non-classic of celluloid junk Le lac des morts vivants, only instead of lying below the waters of a local lake in France, in Dead Snow the zombies lie beneath the snow of Norway.
Luckily, Dead Snow shares little else with Rollin's legendary celluloid mistake and, instead, reveals itself in the long run to have much more in common with another zombie sub-genre, the zombie comedy. But unlike the other most recent zombie comedy—Hollywood's Zombieland (2009 / trailer)—Dead Snow places much less emphasis on witty dialogue and instead goes for blood-splattered gags in a comparable manner to that pursued by Peter Jackson in Braindead (1992 / trailer), the film poster of which is seen briefly on the t-shirt of some of the film's Norwegian zombie fodder.
Dead Snow does not start out all that auspiciously. The usual unisex group of seven virtually interchangeable characters drive deep into the snow-covered backlands of the Norwegian mountains for a weekend of fun at a deserted cabin owned by an eighth (whom we see killed in the opening scene). Their inane blather—about classic horror films such as Friday the 13th (1980 / trailer), The Evil Dead I (1981 / trailer) and II (1987 / trailer), and April Fool's Day (1986 / trailer)—aggravates only a little less than the scenes of them having a good time on the snow or in the hut. Nothing new here, much like the later evening visit of an unfriendly local camper (Bjørn Sundquist) who both insults and warns his hosts of the dangers of the region only to wander back to his camp and promptly become the first victim to suffer the very disembowelment he foretold for the teen fodder.
But for all the predictability of the film's first half-hour, Dead Snow begins to find its footing at the point when the handsome stud of the bunch, Vegard (Lasse Valdal), zooms off on his snowmobile to look for his missing girlfriend; after discovering the disembowelled camper, he soon has his hands full with undead Nazis and, in one the film’s many funny gore pieces, Nazi intestines. Back at the cabin things initially remain pretty mundane (the others drink and party and discover some Nazi booty) until a hilariously tasteless sex scene in the outhouse—you notice where his hand had been just before she puts it in her mouth?—and the zombies begin their siege.The ones that had sex are of course the first to go, and what follows thereafter swings between the tension of the hunt and a lot of great sight gags, funny exchanges and blood-drenched humour. The scene stolen directly from The Descent (2005 / trailer) wasn't really needed, perhaps, but aside from that slight mishap the bodycount in Dead Snow grows in enjoyable explosions of plasma and gore even as the film goes (successfully) for laughs. And, unbelievably enough, once the Nazis show up, the faceless young adults actually manage to develop enough individuality that the viewer roots for them, thus making the events a bit more involving as well.
Dead Snow is not a breathtaking, genre-bending masterpiece, but it is some fine, perfectly seasoned gore cheese and as such more than adequately soothes the palate of fans of the genre. Full of viscera and oddball laughs, once you get past the lame start, the only thing Dead Snow lacks that would helped made it even better is a nude scene, something was once a guarantee in any European horror film.