Sara (Ane Dahl Torp) rushes alone through the snowy wilderness of the Norwegian mountains and valleys, convinced she is being pursued by a sinister foe. She barges through the branches of the barren trees, heart in her mouth, aware that her plans to meet her friends and brother Vergard (Lasse Verdal) at a remote cabin by skiing cross country are the sole thing keeping her alive - if she can reach her destination, that is. But is is not to be, as she really is being chased by shadowy, uniformed menaces who loom out of the twilight gloom and eventually bring her down into the cold. There's no way she can get away now, and soon her heart is in someone else's mouth as the evildoers begin to eat her alive...
Dead Snow was a minor surprise when it was released, doing well enough internationally to secure its director Tommy Wirkola a high-paying job on a would-be blockbuster, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which many found a disappointment with its lavish CGI in comparison with the more down and dirty effects on display here. This also was successful enough for a sequel that was even more highly regarded, but back at the original there was some entertainment to be gleaned considering it was your basic shocker that assembled a bunch of folks in a cabin and set about despatching them in gory fashion, a horror staple that had only been cemented by The Evil Dead back in the nineteen-eighties.
And that film is given a reference here, as are some zombie movies by the requisite horror fan character Erlend (Jeppe Beck Laursen) who also happens to be fat and vaguely obnoxious, which would appear to be Wirkola shooting himself in the foot until he awards him a sex scene as a reward for... something or other (taste?). Though it is set in the cabin's outside toilet with a girl (Jenny Skavlan) who thinks nothing of sucking Erlend's fingers before he has washed his hands, so how beneficial that is to either of them is debatable, particularly in light of what happens next. Before that there were signs the director would have been just as comfortable at the helm of a winter sports movie what with the snowmobile performing stunts and two small versions providing an interlude.
But after that, we get to the nub of who it was exactly that feasted on Sara at the prologue when an old bloke shows up at the cabin and spins a yarn about what happened in the region during the Second World War. Seems there were Nazi troops stationed there who treated the locals very badly, so badly that revenge was the only way out of this oppression and thus the Norwegians forced the soldiers up into a remote part of the landscape to freeze to death. Or that's the story, but now these Nazis are back and belonging to the subset of zombie villains who are allied to the German cause during the conflict, ranging from Shock Waves back in the seventies to Outpost more recently, not a bad idea for gruesome thrills but rarely doing very much with the concept.
Not as much as accusations of dreadful taste would allow anyway, so in the main undead Nazis stick to the rules of zombie flicks so much that they may as well have been the more traditional George A. Romero kind. Just as Shock Waves made the most of its tropical island location to have the baddies emerge from the sea, here the snow provided the special visual bonus, a boon to the gore since the fake blood would show up quite strikingly against the white, though once the killing begins in earnest, Wirkola did tend to focus mostly on intestines which emerged from the bodies in unusual ways, getting snagged on trees or providing something to hang from off a cliff should the need arise, for example. Fair enough, he paid for the special effects so may as well use them, and the sense of humour at work suggested you don't take it all too seriously, though not enough that the suspense was obscured by goofy laughs. All in all it was fairly basic in its construction, but with sufficient gusto in the execution not to make it a waste of the average horror fan's time. Music by Christian Wibe.