Let’s get it out-of-the-way: Dead Snow 2: Red VS Dead is my favorite movie of the year so far. I was all about Dead Snow (part 1) I thought it was throw back to the Raimi/Jackson, over the top, horror flicks I fell in love with as a youth (Yes, I had grossly neglectful parents that just let me watch whatever). Although I was on board with the first Dead Snow, I felt it was missing something. What that something was I could never place and I always chalked it up to a language barrier or cultural difference. Whatever the reason writer/director Tommy Wirkola returned to make a zombie just for me…or so I like to tell myself.
DS2 picks up minutes where the first film left off. Martin (Vegar Hoel) is left covered with blood and one arm lighter. Barely escaping the horde of gold loving, undead Nazis, Martin winds up in a hospital and the only suspect for the brutal slaughter of his friends and girl friend. No one believes his crazed ravings of Nazi zombies and he soon escapes (involving the slaying of a pre-teen and death by Mercedes hound ordainment). Word quickly reaches (thanks to the internet, good to know it can be used for something more than porn and bitching about movies…) Daniel (Martin Starr), leader of the Zombie Squad. If the Zombie Squad sounds like a couple of nerds who are obsessed with the undead that’s because that is exactly what it is. Teamed-up with the Zombie Squad and armed with a newly attached zombie…. arm (that gives him super strength and the ability to raise the dead…) Martin has to stop these Nazi Zombies before they start World War….well, you know…
Everything about DS2 is bigger and crazier. More blood, guts and undead Nazis mayhem is to be expected, but the entire scope of the movie is widened. Wirkola clearly had a bigger budget and definitely knew how to use it. Giving the zombies a reason to leave the secluded mountain setting of the first film was critical for this scope. The writers (Wirkola, Hoel and Stig Frode Henriksen) really give you a believable reason why these Nazi zombies are on the killing spree throughout Norway…okay, not BELIEVABLE, but acceptable reason that works. This of course lines up tons of victims for the Nazi and that’s where we get a lot of our gore. And trust me when I say that the gore in DS2 will satisfy the most hardcore horrorhounds. Just when I thought Wirkola had gone the limit, he uses a zombies face to get a stuck car out of the mud.
Wirkola is an expert of the mash-ups. Be it fairy tales and action or horror and comedies this man knows how to blend a genre. It’s this expert hand that makes watching a grown man push through a tweens chest in a failed attempt at CPR or Nazi zombies using a tank to blow away a pair of mothers with strollers filled with newborns so goddamn fun. It really is a hard-line to walk and not done right you can have a big steaming pile of zombie poo on your hands.
I know you have to be wondering what the sub-title of the flick (Red VS Dead) is about. I know I was. Well (***SPOILER ALERT***) its Russian zombies VS Nazi zombies! I did not see this coming and holy crap is it awesome. The movie climaxes in an epic battle that will forever be my favorite Russins/German zombie war battle. (***SPOILER ALERT OVER***)
Throwing Martin Starr in the mix with his Zombie Squad (which consists of two smoking hot nerd babes… Just like every nerd internet club… ) was an awesome addition. A nice meta nod towards zombie films without being all preachy about it (*cough* Scream *cough*). Starr plays the standard nerd you would expect him to be, but he’s a nerd that gets to fulfill a fantasy I imagine most of us share: Going ape shit on zombies! With 2 claw head hammers Starr delivers the second most badass hammer-centric fight scene of the year (The first being the subway scene in The Raid 2 with Hammer Girl). I never thought I would say this, but Martin Starr is a total badass.
Tommy Wirkola has my undying respect. After making the well received Dead Snow it didn’t take long for Hollywood to scoop him up and he was directing the not as bad as everyone made it seem Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. I’m not writing this to defend HGWH, but I do think Wirkola is cool as hell to return to the world of Dead Snow and deliver this sequel. When I’m sure he had a slew of projects offered to him, Wirkola went back to what put him on the map. Much in the vein of horror/comedies of 80’s/90’s Wirkola totally tapped into the pre-teen horror nut inside me. Dead Snow 2: Red VS Dead is a must own title for any horror fan who is tired of zombies. It’s funny, gory and reminds us why we love this genre to begin with.