Nazi zombies. As ideas for pulp horror movies go, it certainly doesn’t get much pulpier than that, short of the undead battalion being led by S&M taskmaster Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. But a hook that good requires some follow-through, too, and the Norwegian splatter comedy Dead Snow takes far too much time to get the wheels in motion. Not until the film’s halfway point is it even revealed that the creatures marauding in a remote mountain pass are, in fact, Nazis on an eternal quest for filthy lucre. Even then, the concept doesn’t go much further than the wardrobe department—that is, until a deliriously over-the-top climax finally rouses the film from its Evil Dead-mimicking stupor.
Sticking with the tried-and-true, writer-director Tommy Wirkola goes with the old stand-by of stranding seven horny young adults in a remote cabin in the mountains where—as if they were in space—no one can hear them scream. After a 45-minute trek through the snow, they arrive for a weekend of tobogganing and boozing, but before long, they start disappearing. Turns out a Nazi squadron fled to the area to escape the Russians in the waning days of World War II, and their zombified remains haunt the hills, searching for treasure that just happens to be buried under the cabin.
For much of the way, Dead Snow goes through the familiar motions, self-consciously winking at obvious predecessors like Friday The 13th, Evil Dead II, and Shaun Of The Dead, while staking out precious little territory of its own. But once the action broadens to the open snow and the victims start to fight back, the Nazi-zombie premise finally pays off: What could be more satisfying and cathartic than resurrecting Nazis just to kill them again? With Nazis literally popping up out of the snow, Wirkola plays a game of fascist whack-a-mole where ravenous midnight audiences are bound to feel like winners.