Welcome back to another edition of Netflix Gems. I hope you enjoyed last week’s gem and had the opportunity to watch Blue Ruin. This week, I am going to take a step in a totally different direction. This week’s gem is Død Snø (a.k.a Dead Snow). Despite all of its cheesiness, its lack of originality in plot and its low budget; I still consider this movie to be a Netflix Gem.
Dead Snow is a Norwegian horror-comedy that embraces the tropes of almost every zombie movie ever made, but also manages to remain surprisingly unique at the same time. A group of medical students decide to head into the mountains during break. As all horror movies usually go, things turn from perfect to kind-of-scary, to pretty freaking awful. Between the we-should-probably-get-out-of-here phase and the we-definitely-should-have-left-sooner phase, we meet our antagonist. It isn’t a chainsaw-wielding cannibal maniac that haunts our protagonists’ very existence, nor is it a serial killer who preys on those who have premarital relations. No, it’s the next obvious choice: Nazi zombies. Yes. You heard correctly. This is a Norwegian film that pits mere college students against a horde of undead Nazi zombies. It’s a match made in hell.
We meet all of the characters and discover their interests/special talents via expository dialogue in the first 25 minutes of the film. The characters are cookie-cutter; I cannot hide that from you. Each actor fills his or her role, nothing more and nothing less. Hell, there is literally a scary old guy who acts both as a jump-scare and as a source for information. It is from him that we discover the sordid history that lays hidden beneath the mountain. It could not get any more stereotypical. Unless, of course, that old man happened to chew tobacco and lost his whole family to the Nazi zombies. In spite of all of this, I will go as far as to say that Dead Snow “embraces the cheese.” Simply put, this film embraces everything about it that is mediocre and openly pokes fun at it. It is metahumor, plain and simple. I would argue that without it, Dead Snow could not exist. I would also argue that the gore in this movie definitely sets it apart from other zombie movies that I have seen. I do not consider myself to be a lover of blood and gore, but this movie has some fabulously disgusting moments. I saw things that I cannot un-see.
In that respect, Dead Snow did its job. It is a self-aware cookie-cutter gore-fest. It does not take itself too seriously, and that is why this film succeeds. It covers dark and potentially serious topics – Nazis, zombies, sex, death, blood and gore – with a wide toothy grin.
I want to issue you a simple warning (allow me to stand on my soapbox for just a moment): do not allow the great films of the world to spoil the mediocre films. Learn to enjoy every film and to look for aspects that make it entirely unique. It is easy to become jaded. I struggle with it like everyone else. This film operates at a low budget. I do not know the exact number, but I suggest that you look it up before you watch Dead Snow so that you can fully appreciate what the creators were able to do with a dream and plenty of elbow grease. It is quite impressive. I would argue that this is a slightly above average film with a unique veneer. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie the first and second time I watched. It is not perfect; in fact, it is pretty far from it. This is the kind of movie that you want to watch with your friends and a large bucket of popcorn on Saturday night. Some movies are made for to you feel, some movies are made to make you think, and some movies are meant purely to enjoy. This is one of those films. Embrace the cheese.
words_collin stevens. photo_netflix.