Fans of the original can rest easy, Tommy Wirkola’s partially crowd-funded follow-up to 2009’s Nazisploitation throwback flick Dead Snow delivers on pretty much every front you could hope for. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is a direct sequel in the same vein as Crank 2: every ridiculous aspect of the original is turned up to 11, with all of the plodding exposition ripped out and replaced with more Zombies, more Nazis and even greater levels of gore.
The film opens with a substantial Evil Dead II-esque recap of the events of Dead Snow. This was a great way to begin; it showcases some of the fantastic gore shots from the first film (the make-up and special effects in this film are also unrivaled by many other Zombie productions), it grounds audiences who are unfamiliar with the events of the first film (an important task as it is a direct sequel), and it acknowledges (both visually and structurally) the amount Wirkola’s series owes to Raimi’s Evil Dead films, which are a clear and obvious inspiration. Essentially though, it provides all audiences with the tools to fully enjoy and understand Red vs. Dead, an important thing that most Horror sequels should, but many forget to do.
Dead Snow 2 follows Martin (Vegar Hoel), the sole survivor of its predecessor who, like Ash of the Evil Dead series, now possesses an augmented limb – Nazi general Herzog’s super-strong zombified arm. The undead beings he thought he had defeated in the first film are back, determined to wipe out everybody in a rather large Norwegian village as per Hitler’s orders. In retaliation, Martin enlists the support of the Zombie Squad (three Zombie-obsessed American nerds), a War museum operator, and an army of Zombie Soviets to take down the second coming of the Third Reich.
All of this sounds great on paper; the only (and I really mean only) problem is that two of the Zombie Squad members, Monica and Blake (played by Jocelyn DeBoer and Ingrid Haas of CollegeHumor fame), are completely unlikeable. Their performances are executed in the sort of tongue-in-cheek, self-aware fashion one may expect from regular Internet sketch actresses but, surprisingly, the parts really needed to be played as straight as possible to work. The strength of Hoel and Martin Starr’s (Daniel, another member of Zombie Squad) performances hinge on the fact that both actors don’t actively acknowledge the ridiculousness of their characters’ situations every moment they’re on screen. As strange as it sounds it brings some of the film into the realm of believability (if that’s even possible). It’s not clear if this was a directorial or performance decision but seeing as Starr plays his role fairly straight I’m leaning towards the latter.
It’s a really big shame that DeBoer and Haas don’t pull this off because if they did this Zombie Nazi flick would, hilariously enough, be near flawless. Unfortunately as it stands, these performances bring the overall quality of the flick down a fair few notches. In spite of this, Dead Snow 2 is still well worth watching for anyone with a passing interest in Horror and/or extremely poor taste humor (the amount of horrible things that happen to the disabled, children and the elderly in this film is unfathomable). Go and give this film a look; but keep in mind, it’s best digested with a couple of mates and a lot of beers. Even with its issues, as it stands Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is a knockout.