Sleeper of the Week takes a film that a only few critics have seen and shines some light on it.
The phrase “Nazi zombies” immediately sounds like a third-rate exploitation filmmaker is trying too hard to pander to the Midnight Madness crowd, and that’s more or less what the first “Dead Snow” was. A return to the Nazi zombie well, then, doesn’t sound terribly promising, especially considering that “Dead Snow” director Tommy Wirkola’s project in between was the dire “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.” But to the utter astonishment of Criticwire and most of the critics who sat down to review it, “Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead” actually does something with its ludicrous premise other than coast on it.
The film brings back original star Vegar Hoel as Martin, who escaped Nazi zombie General Herzog only to wake up in this film with Herzog’s arm attached to his body. This leads to some “Evil Dead”-inspired hand vs. body mayhem, but it also gives him the power to raise the dead, or, more specifically, an army of Russian zombies.
Wirkola stages the action more clearly this time around than he did in the first outing, and the violence often approaches “Dead Alive” levels of gory slapstick. But the film’s most inspired move comes from the addition of a trio of American nerds called the Zombie Squad. Led by Martin Starr of “Freaks and Geeks,” the group has spent years waiting for a zombie apocalypse, and Starr’s frequent complaints that the zombies don’t match his expectations provide some fo the film’s biggest laughs. No one is going to compare Wirkola to Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson just yet (no matter how many references to their films he throws in), but he’s at least managed to borrow a little of their go-for-broke lunacy this time around.
More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:
Joe Bendel, Libertas Film Magazine
Mike D’Angelo, The Dissolve
The first “Dead Snow” included a salute to the classic Sam Raimi gearing-up montage, with its quick cuts and abrupt zooms; it was a cute nod, but nothing more. “Red Vs. Dead” does the same thing, but concludes the montage with a long, static shot of the Zombie Squad watching as the cash register at the hardware store churns out an endless receipt for all the tools they’ve purchased. That’s an actual joke, which is what the first movie lacked. Read more.
Hermanth Kissoon, Filmaluation
Was anyone expecting this sequel, to its fun 2009 predecessor, to be anything but embarrassingly undignified (especially after director Tommy Wirkola’s Hollywood misadventure, “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”)? “Dead Snow 2” is of course undignified (what do you expect when average joes are facing defrosted Nazi zombies in the modern world?), however, it is a movie undignified in the best possible way – joyously, unashamedly tasteless. Read more.
Leonard Maltin, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy
Kristy Puchko, Cinema Blend