Much like the Braindead t-shirt sporting character in Tommy Wirkola’s zombie – nazi mashup Dead Snow (2009), a significant aspect of my gushing horror fandom exists in the camp, vitriol spewing ‘splatter’ sub – genre. Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead (Død Snø 2) caters to this core audience, as an undeniably silly expansion of Wirkola’s original film taking place directly after the events of the original. While some reviewers have labelled the sequel as the franchises ‘Blair Witch 2’, Dead Snow 2 is still an absolute blast of a movie. While certain elements may cause grumbles – from annoying American characters, obvious meta – dialogue and sheer excess –Wirkola truly loses control of the franchise in the best of ways, in an entertaining flick treading the absurd paths of Evil Dead 2 (1987) and Rec 3 (2012).
The plot follows sole survivor Martin (Vegar Hoel), haunted by the killing of his girlfriend Hannah (Charlotte Frogner) who after escaping General Herzog’s battalion, overturning his car and waking in a hospital to find Nazi Herzog’s arm surgically attached. The worst part being he has had his grotesque murders pinned on him. Clueless, scared and with an arm manically out of control – (Idle Hands, Evil Dead 2), he escapes as a fugitive corralling the American ‘Zombie Squad’, who turn out to be nobody geeks (Martin Starr, Ingrid Hass and Jocelyn Deboer) and annexing a museum attendant whose life he saves. After discovering that Herzog’s arm not only endows him with strength but the Generals magic – ability to resurrect zombies – a brief Soviet history lesson sees him raise a formidable zombie army for the final showdown with Herzog’s Nazis.
The plot reflects the budget that Wirkola has to play with this time, as Herzog satisfied with his Nazi gold is now set upon wiping out a town to fulfill Hitler’s original mission – leading to a few debatably bad taste segments of Nazi’s bursting into houses and massacring rural families. Putting crude historical re-enactments aside, other elements provide accelerated hijinks including a real tank (used in a glorious homage to Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade), a friendly zombie fittingly known as ‘sidekick zombie’ (Joner) and a grand zombie battle that sees Hoel become an action star, taking out zombies in single punches. Wirkola proves himself through these sequences as a dap hand at action and the results are both awe inspiring and consistently surprising, even rendering Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ as a tearjerker once again.
In a festival filled with horror comedies, Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead succeeded not only as a comedy but as a zombie film in general, raising the bar of what is possible and justifying the entire genres legitimacy. With inventive gore, side splitting comedy and superb action sequences Wirkola’s bigger and better sequel is not be missed and with good reason, was one of the most raucous crowd pleasers of Frightfest 2014.
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Cast: Stig Frode Henriksen, Martin Starr, Vegar Hoel, Orjan Gamst, Amrita Acharia
Runtime: 105 mins