Sundance 2014 Review: Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead
Dead Snow: Red Vs. Dead rips off Evil Dead 2, Re-Animator and All of Me. Are we all okay with that? Maybe I’m being too sensitive. Maybe in the communal spirit of sharing, all horror movies are entitled to amputations and decapitation sex jokes. It just felt to me that the Dead Snow sequel was doing the same thing as the classics, not even paying homage. The All of Me lift is a stretch and ties in with the Evil Dead 2 bit, but by the end there’s even something Planet Terror already did.
Red Vs. Dead picks up right where Dead Snow left off. Martin Hykkerud (Vegar Hoel) has just escaped from the cabin in the woods fighting off the Nazi zombies. Or are they zombie Nazis? What’s the protocol on this? Martin ends up in the hospital where a little kid introduces him to the Zombie Squad (Martin Starr, Ingrid Haas and Jocelyn DeBoer) who join him in Norway to defeat the Nazombies/Zombazis.
I guess I just don’t get the Nazi zombie thing. How does being Nazis make zombies any worse? Or how does being zombies make Nazis any worse? It’s irrelevant because these aren’t zombies by any definition we’ve accepted. There’s a leader, which implies that the soldier zombies have enough brain power to take orders. They could at least be generic monsters, but no because they can pick up weapons too. They’re just human killers with ugly faces, and they go around whacking and chopping up innocent victims.
Martin essentially becomes a violent superhero. He has the power to kill, crush and dismember zombies, as well as the power to re-animate the dead under his command. That just creates more characters who can violently slaughter the extras.
I’m not offended, but I’m more disappointed in the gory humor. Defacing corpses is outrageous, but not clever. There’s some fun mayhem but the gore undermines the dark comedy. Any wit to the kills becomes pure shock with the excessive gore. By the fifth intestine set piece you wonder, is that all they got? There are a few excessive kills that are infectiously funny, and the heroes being grossed out by zombie vomit is well timed comedy.
The inclusion of American characters transitions the bulk of the film into English, which should help international sales. It must have been fun for the American actors to go play in Norway, playing the action hero roles they can’t get in Hollywood. I guess I can’t really blame the Norwegians for the hot zombie geek characters because they’re just copying what they see in American media. One of the girls makes Star Wars references. Kevin Smith can’t even pull off Star Wars references anymore. You think some Norwegians can? They even have to explain a piece of Star Wars memorabilia she uses. Starr’s characters talks meta about genre, which also feels like it’s trying too hard.
Red Vs. Dead also moves from the snow to the countryside, and the film looks better with higher definition digital footage. It still ultimately looks cheap though. The final battle takes place literally in someone’s backyard. There’s also a climactic fight between two big bads, one of whom was never introduced.
Dead Snow: Red Vs. Dead is so obsessed with being cool, it’s just too proud of itself. Starr’s character even brags “Fuck yeah” at one point, which was supposed to be endearing but rubbed me the wrong way. I did like the last scene though. I’m not totally heartless. Any musical cue that nets Jim Steinman some residuals is okay by me.