Movie Review – Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014)
2009’s Dead Snow, by Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola, told of a group of students fending off attacks from Nazi zombies at a cabin in the Norwegian mountains. The film was humorous and gory, but at the time I missed the overall joke, which is that these students were so enamored with American cinema that they mistook the undead Nazis for Hollywood zombies rather than as a draugr, a revenant of Norwegian folklore obsessed with protecting its treasure. Had they been more educated about their own culture, they may have fared a little better against the undead. Dead Snow is a cultural lesson that is easily lost in translation for foreign viewers.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014), filmed in Iceland, picks up right after the first film, and it does so with gratuitous gusto. It’s lighter in tone and heavier on gore. Want to see Nazi and Soviet zombies do battle? Want to see three American nerds – including a Star Wars fan girl and a Trekker – team up with a gay Norwegian to kick some zombie ass? Want to have hilariously disturbing images stuck in your head hereafter each time you hear Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”? Of course you do! And Dead Snow 2 brings it. It’s one of those movies where you keep asking yourself, “Are they really going to go there?” And the answer is almost always YES, and you’re glad that they did. Plus we get the hulking Derek Mears, who played Jason in the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th, as the reanimated Soviet leader Stavarin.
The references to American cinematic culture are more endearing this time around. Instead of lamenting its prevalence, it embraces and revels in it. My only real gripe with these movies is that I never felt a connection to the main protagonist, but the second film solves that by surrounding him with likable allies that we gladly root for. The first movie was filmed only in Norwegian, but this sequel was filmed in English as well. While I certainly recommend the first film, the plot is so thin that you don’t really need to see it to watch this movie, and if I could only recommend one it would be this sequel.