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Sleeper of the Week: ‘Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead’

Sleeper of the Week: 'Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead'

Sleeper of the Week takes a film that a only few critics have seen and shines some light on it.

“Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead”
Dir: Tommy Wirkola
Criticwire Average: A-

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

With R vs. D, Wirkola proves there is still some life left in the Norwegian Nazi zombie genre after all. Frankly, part two far exceeds the original. While the first film was content to coast on the novelty of its premise, largely staging a conventional zombie siege, Wirkola’s follow-up more fully capitalizes on the possibilities of such a distinctive zombie apocalypse. Read more.

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

I needn’t bother with more details: the movie is off and running and scarcely stops to take a breath. An unlikely intrusion by three American zombie hunters is par for the course in such a farcical setting, yet somehow the unfolding story makes sense (if you’re willing to go along for the ride). The nerdy leader of the American trio (Martin Starr) says to Hoel at one point, “I’ve seen a thousand zombie movies and this isn’t in any of them!” Indeed. Read more.

Kristy Puchko, Cinema Blend

“Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead” delivers more gore, action, firepower, and laughs than the first film. It’s brilliantly bonkers and will have audiences howling with laughter from its first zombie battle to its fucked up and fun final showdown. Read more.

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