Review first published by Film Divider
“The Sequel You Did Nazi Coming,” reads the poster tagline for Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead (Død Snø 2) – and it is absolutely true. For while sequels hardly come as a surprise in the horror genre, Tommy Wirkola’s follow-up to Dead Snow (2009), though entirely unnecessary, is also unexpectedly welcome. The groan-inducing pun in this tagline perfectly encapsulates the humour of a film that is always right precisely for being so blithely wrong.
Picking up exactly where the first film left off, Dead Snow 2 continues to follow Martin (Vegar Hoel), the long-suffering lone survivor of an attack by revenant zombie Nazis, as he finds himself accused of slaughtering his friends, lumbered with the corpse-controlling arm of zombie Captain Herzog (Ørjan Gamst), and having to prevent an undead army from wreaking bloodily outdated vengeance against the populous town of Tolvik. Fortunately he gets help from a ‘zombie squad’ of geeky Americans (Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas), a closeted museum attendant (Stig Frode Henriksen), a repeat-resurrected tourist guide (Kristoffer Jones) and a once massacred faction of the Red Army.
It is tempting to suggest that Dead Snow 2 satirises the extreme ideologies that lie, long dormant and buried, beneath the liberalism of modern Norway, and the ease with which the peace-loving nation might again succumb to the far right. After all, the sight of an SS tank running riot through the Norwegian suburbs is an uncomfortable spectre for a country that fell under Nazi occupation for five long years – and it is hardly a coincidence that key scenes in this film take place in and around a World War II museum, as the twentieth-century history that it commemorates suddenly comes back to horrific life.
Yet, far from being a po-faced disquisition on the Northern European theatre of operations and its afterlife, Dead Snow 2 is a fully-fledged ‘zom com’ (with some steamy necrophiliac ‘rom’ added at the end), running the gamut of geeky genre references (from Evil Dead II to the Star Wars franchise) in pursuit of any laugh it can find. Wirkola’s savvy pastiche sutures one cinematic idea to another as readily as Herzog’s rotten forearm is stitched to Martin’s fresher body, and despite one character’s claim that, “I’ve seen 10,000 zombie movies, and this is not in any of them – you’ve created a whole new genre, man!”, this film is less likely to be celebrated for its questionable originality than for its well-earned hilarity. If you see a young child, a priest, a coachload of foreign tourists, a disabled person in a wheelchair, or mothers pushing their babies in prams, you can be sure they are about to meet a graphically grisly end, before either being recruited posthumously to the ranks of the SS, or having their body parts put to some sort of grotesquely inventive use (fuel siphoned via intestines, etc.). All this is in the service of humour that, though politically incorrect and in defiantly poor taste, somehow remains too fun ever to seem in any way mean-spirited. And if it gets you laughing – and in particular laughing at Nazis – its work is done.