DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS. DEAD (2014)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Bloody Horror Violence and Gore throughout, and Language including some Sexual References

(English/Norwegian with English subtitles)

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Directed by: Tommy Wirkola

Written by: Tommy Wirkola, Stig Frode Henriksen & Vegar Hoel

Starring: Vegar Hoel, Orjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen & Hallvard Holmen

Confession time. I didn’t like DEAD SNOW. I felt it had a couple of solid scenes (mainly the climactic fight and the intestines being used to hang over a cliff), but suffered from horrible pacing and Tommy Wirkola forcing a faux cult classic vibe simply on the premise of Nazi Zombies. The fact is that a lot of people did like DEAD SNOW and they liked enough that it was successful enough to spawn a sequel. I really was hesitant about watching this second installment to a film I didn’t care that much for to begin with, but I watched it nonetheless. I’m so happy to say that Tommy Wirkola has joined the welcomed new trend of horror filmmakers who give a shit about what they make. He seems to have listened to every complaint about the flaws of the original and tried his best to fix them in this sequel. Is it perfect? Not even close. Is it a blast of gory fun? Hell yes! DEAD SNOW 2 kicks a lot of ass!

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The story begins right from the last shot of the original movie. Following a quick recap (which also contains most of the first film’s highlight scenes), Martin is attacked by Nazi Zombies for one last stolen gold coin in his vehicle. After making a quick getaway and crashing his car, Martin awakes in the hospital to discover that he lost his arm and had it reattached. The kicker is that this is actually a zombie arm and it’s going out of control (murdering anybody who comes close to the decaying appendage). Meanwhile, the Nazi Zombies have been inspired to attack a town. In order to save the day, Martin (and his zombie arm) must enlist the help of the American self-named “Zombie Squad” to kill this undead menace….but they’ll need to raise an army of their own to win the war.

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DEAD SNOW 2 shows superior humor in an opening that has Martin trying to fight undead Nazis while the radio keeps playing a distracting techno-dance beat. It only lasts for a minute or so, but the film already had me grinning like an idiot. The cinematography also looks a hell of a lot better than the first film. You can tell they had way more of budget this time around and Wirkola utilizes it like a blood-crazed madman. It’s a wonder this flick made it past the MPAA with an R rating. It’s violent as shit! Intestines litter the place, tons of pitch-black comedy is frequently used, and nobody is safe. Not women, not children, not the elderly, not even cripples. The body count is massive to say the least and each kill is given its quick creative style. This is the kind of film you’d want to see in either a packed midnight screening or with a group of slightly drunk friends. One of the highlights is a frequently abused zombie sidekick who made me laugh even harder every time he showed up. Wirkola (with the help of two other screenwriters) has finely tuned his comedic timing and it shows in nearly every frame.

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DEAD SNOW 2 is a blast, but it’s not without its share of problems. These mainly come in the form of Martin’s living sidekicks. The “Zombie Squad” has a few decent moments (namely in their introduction), but these people can come off as really annoying in areas. One female member obsessed with STAR WARS didn’t get a single chuckle out of me and seemed to be carrying pretty much every issue I had with the movie-quoting character in the first DEAD SNOW. Simply referencing a film does not give your character an identifiable personality. Harping on this actually makes them frustrating to watch. Equally as annoying is a gay stereotype who uses being gay for pretty much all of his punch lines. He’s not used too often, but it’s borderline offensive when he is. These flaws don’t put a huge damper on what’s clearly meant to be bona-fide midnight movie material though. There is a long, appropriately epic battle in the second half of the film that never once gets boring or drags. The final shot of this film won’t soon be forgotten for a variety of reasons.

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DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS. DEAD is far more entertaining, original, well-made, and fun than the first DEAD SNOW. It’s nice to watch horror filmmakers listen to fans and try to better themselves with each new project. DEAD SNOW 2 is not high art or terrifying, but it wasn’t meant to be either. It does its job just fine. It’s a gory blast of fun that’s loaded with laughs. A few characters can get on the viewer’s nerves, but the climactic battle will sweep most unpleasant memories of them aside. If you liked DEAD SNOW, you’ll love DEAD SNOW 2. If you didn’t like DEAD SNOW, then you should still give DEAD SNOW 2 a chance.

Grade: B

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