Heads up. They’re back.
If the worst day of your life consisted of accidentally killing your girlfriend with an axe, chain-sawing your own arm off, and watching in horror as your closest friends were devoured by a zombified Nazi battalion, you’d have to assume that things couldn’t get much worse. In Martin’s case, that was only the beginning.
After Norwegian writer/director Tommy Wirkola made his 2013 Hollywood film debut with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, he returned to his homeland and began pre-production for a sequel to his 2009 zombie flick Dead Snow, the antagonists of which where frozen zombified Nazis led by chief adversary Oberst Herzog that are roused from their icy slumber by a group of vacationing medical students who discover the Nazi’s lair of gold.
I truly enjoyed the first film so when I saw that Wirokola was making a sequel, I was excited but also had mixed feelings. My concern on the sequel, knowing how huge of a fan Wirkola is of Sam Raimi, was it to be a rehash or would he move in a different direction? Dead Snow was a bit uneven and felt at points that the gore, as well as the humor, was being forced. Although it never broke new ground and is filled with cliches — never mind how the Nazis became zombified in the first place or why no one ever turned into a zombie after being bitten — it doesn’t take away from it being a fun and entertaining film with excellent visual effects.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead continues where the original left off. After a brief, gory recap for those unfamiliar with the original, the sequel begins from literally the minute the other film ended. We find maimed, lone survivor Martin (Vegar Hoel) being confronted by Oberst Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) and his Schutzstaffel soldiers as he attempts to get away in a car. Though he’s only got one arm (the other self-amputated with a chainsaw earlier), Martin makes his escape with the colonel hanging onto the steering wheel until a passing truck dislodges him, tearing the colonel’s arm off in the process.
Martin subsequently ends up crashing the vehicle, and wakes up disoriented and handcuffed to his hospital bed, where learns that his missing arm has been successfully reattached; except it’s the zombified, evil limb of Colonel Herzog. Martin soon learns the arm has a mind of its own (homage to Bruce Campbell’s Evil Dead hero Ash) and eventually discovers it has the supernatural ability to resurrect the dead.
Martin escapes from the hospital and flees authorities, leaving a body count in his wake. Setting out to get his revenge on Herzog for the death of his girlfriend by trying to find the colonel’s weakness, he travels to a World War II museum where he uncovers the Nazi leader’s vile history. With the aid of museum clerk Bobby (Carl-Magnus Adner) and a trio of US zombie hunter geeks, he attempts to destroy Herzog and his soldiers before they can build a new platoon of the undead to complete their original orders from World War II, and decimate the small town of Talvik.
Realizing this is beyond the capability of four people, Martin uses his superpower to resurrect a legion of his own dead, a group of Russian prisoners that Herzog had executed and left buried in the shallow frozen tundra. In the film’s climax, we are treated to what is essentially a shlocky gore and humor filled World War II battle reenactment of undead Russians vs. undead Nazis.
This sequel is different though in the sense that it is definitely a far more streamlined and balanced movie, as well as more over-the-top with the gore and humor when compared to the original. This is an all out zombedy and nothing is off limits when it comes to who gets killed and how, not the clergy, the handicapped, the elderly or babies. I especially enjoyed the tank rolling over the children playing in the sandbox.
As funny as the comedy is overall, there are definitely some not so funny moments and characters that are less than stellar. I’m talking about the Zombie Squad led by Daniel (Freaks & Geeks’ Martin Starr) and rounded out by Monica (Jocelyn DeBoer) and Blake (Ingrid Haas). This is not to say that these characters were terrible, it is that Wirkola seemed unable to find a balance in making the trio of inept dolts endearing enough to truly care about, nor did he send up or mock the trio’s lack of preparedness. But still overall the movie embraces what is, an entertaining mix of political incorrectness, camp, mayhem, and blood and guts.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead is shameless with its outlandish humor and oddball characters, especially the police. The carnage is shockingly gruesome in its inventive ways in killing zombies and humans–the intestine scene one of the best — and the Nazi zombie action is fun and outrageous. Tommy Wirkola and team surpasses the original with a more well-balanced and crafted film, showing their maturity as filmmakers, but most importantly, they never take themselves too seriously which makes for a zombie comedy that should not be missed.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
Directed by Tommy Wirkola
Screenplay by Tommy Wirkola, Stig Frode Henriksen, Vegar Hoel
Cast: Vegar Hoel, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Amrita Acharia, Orjan Gamst, Carl-Magnus Adner
Runtime: 100 minutes
Release Date: USA, Blu-ray & DVD December 9.