There seem to be two types of zombie films. One will be a serious take full of symbolism and you will never hear the actual word “zombie.” The other will be a balls-out Zomedy where chaos reigns and everything goes. Their fans tend to be just as split, each yearning for one over the other. Then there are the different levels of quality with each type. Very few have been able to straddle the line sucessfully. “Sean of the Dead” is the closest marriage netween the two with all others a distant 2nd.
“Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead” begins with a recap of the previous story in a concise and easily digestible manner. Following that, the new film picks up right where the first left off and anyone who was unfamiliar with that one will know that right from the outset the viewers are in for something in the same vein as Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive.” Martin (Vegar Hoel) is the lone survivor of the previous Nazi zombie attack. It came with a price in the form of losing his right arm. However in a bit of synchronicity, the main Nazi baddie also lost his right arm while going in for one last kill attempt. His arm is left in the car while Martin drives off and appropriately crashes his car. When he wakes up in a hospital the doctors have reattached what they thought was his arm. After a brief freak out with some requisite fatalities, Martin escapes from the hospital and contacts an American group known as The Zombie Squad, which turns out to be three, shall we say, “indoor type” people who may or may not be nerds. All they care about is Star Wars and helping eradicate any zombie uprisings that may occur. Two are females (Ingrid Haas and Jocelyn DeBoer) and the third is “Freaks and Geeks” star Martin Starr. From here the three meet up with Martin and help fight a war between Nazi and Russian zombies.
“Dead Snow 2” should firmly be nested into the Black Comedy genre. This is a film that does not shy away from killing everyone, including kids and the elderly. Admittedly, there are some genuinely unique and funny albeit gross situations, however as a whole, the film comes across unevenly. There are moments where you can tell more money was put into specific scenes than others. There is some good stunt work and surprisingly little CGI used as practical effects dominate most of the carnage. The sets and effects are solid and holds it together for the most part but unfortunately the seams split open in the end finale with the big war between the Russians and Nazis looking like a moderately engaging cosplay event.
Near the end there is a moment in the movie where a character repeatedly calls out the absurdity of the zombie situation. From this point on all plot logic is cast aside and the movie then recreates its own absurd logic in hopes of getting away with it. It is nice to know the filmmakers knew the material is absurd but it’s another thing to seemingly throw every silly thing you can think of at the viewers and see if anything sticks to them. Being meta should not be a get-out-of-jail free card for a filmmaker. It should not allow you to be wacky for wackiness sake. It is well known that puns are the lowest form of humor and this is the taste that is left in my mouth after watching this film.
The 2.40:1 1080P image looks clear which no surprise since it was shot digitally. The AVC encode has a relatively small color palette to work with. Snowy whites dominate the screen with the other colors mainly being red or black. However, contrast is strong and holds up well with the white snow against either the night sky or pools of dark red blood. The detail is stable throughout with no overt issues to mention.
The English DTS-HA MA 5.1 track holds up well against the image. The main factor here is the surround sound immersion with splatter effects being spread all around the sound stage. There are also plenty of tank missile shots that fly overhead. The LFE channel has a lot of fun with those. It’s not a fully realized track but it does what it needs to do.
The main extra is the Norwegian version of the feature entitles Død Snø 2. It utilizes DD 5.1 tracks in Norwegian and French. Also accompanying the main feature is a audio commentary from the writer and director of the film, Tommy Wirkola. This is a casual, likable listen with many jokes thrown about. A short Film “Armen” clocks in just under 15 minutes is next. There is also a VFX bit and a trailer for the film.
Can letting the audience know that you’re obviously going for meta be a sustainable life for a film franchise? Does having a ridiculous premise and calling yourself out on the premise during the movie make you not guilty of laziness or perhaps give you a license for all the silliness? “Dead Snow 2” was compared to “Sean of the Dead” and I just don’t see it. In a general sense, sure, but they are worlds apart when it comes to subtly, homage and creativity. Perhaps it simply comes down to a matter of taste. If you want the non-serious, zany kind of zombie movie then by all means eat this one up. If you like yours with a side of clever commentary or intensity, skip it.