Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead (2014)

Director: Tommy Wirkola
Notable Cast: Vegar Hoel, Orjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Baas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Hallvard Holmen, Kristoffer Joner, Amrita Acharia, Derek Mears

The horror comedy genre owes big portions of its success to the groundbreaking work from both Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson (pre-Lord of the Rings). Their influence is a massive part of the material that Tommy Wirkola has put out in his career thus far. The first Dead Snow very obviously nodded to Raimi with its slap stick violence and atmospheric visuals, for example. For the sequel however, Wirkola digs up enough gore, humor, and over the top violence to kick it into the Peter Jackson homage territory. A move that not only makes a film that is funnier and gorier than the first, but one that just might be better.

Martin (Hoel) has barely survived the ordeal on the mountain against the army of undead Nazis, but a car wreck on his way down has left him hospitalized and under suspicion when no one believes that zombies killed his friends. That’s the least of his worries though after he finds out the doctors attached the zombie arm of the villainous leader Herzog (Gamst) onto his body and that the evil Nazis are on there way down from the mountain. With the help of some new friends from the Zombie Squad and a bit of supernatural strength from his new arm, Martin is going to have to take on an entire army…dead or alive.

"Look at all of those funny kills to come..."
The films of Tommy Wirkola certainly take a specific ‘taste’ from the viewer to enjoy. If you don’t find humor in horrible deaths, gratuitous gore, and non-stop violence then you might as well back off. If, however, you do find some humor in the vein of Evil Dead 2 or Dead Alive, sit back and prepare for the laughter in slaughter because Dead Snow 2 is going to hit all the right buttons.

The film is set to a lightning pace. It starts off right after the events of the first film as zombies attack Martin’s car on the way off of the mountain and rarely does the film stop from there. While the first film took time to set up characters and atmosphere, Dead Snow 2 assumes you’ve seen the first one and keeps it moving at full speed from there. Sure, there’s a bit of story here or there as they add a few new characters to the mix, like the bumbling nerds of the Zombie Squad complete with Star Wars quotes or the arrogant police chief out to capture Martin, but it mostly happens at a full run…which adds to the frantic fun of the film.

He had to be 'axed' a question.
At the pace that Dead Snow 2 moves, the resulting blend of humor and gore has to keep up and Wirkola and company are more than inspired for the task. Whether it’s the intentionally ridiculous slap stick violence of Martin’s slave zombie who continually perishes and comes back to life or the intense reign of terror that Herzog and his zombies inflict on the villages they storm through with their tank, all of the proceedings blend humor and horror with relative ease so that even when something relatively terrible happens…it’s hilarious. The gore effects are top notch and the film takes an almost action like turn in the final act that’s punctuated with phenomenal stunts. There is a sequence where Herzog throws Martin through the ceiling of a house and he comes back down to roll down a flight of stairs. It might be one of the best stunts I’ve seen this year.

Heads up.
While some might not like Dead Snow 2 as much for its lacking ‘pure horror’ elements that the first film contained, there is so much fun to be had with the humor and high paced antics of Martin, the massive zombie riots, and general destruction of people that rarely did I have time to really compare it until it was done. It does take a certain taste of humor and horror to enjoy the film, but with its strong executions and relentless pacing it’s hard not to recommend this to everyone. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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