In lieu of my next "real" blog post (and I have several wonderfully acerbic ones just a spell check away from being unleashed), and with the intention of loosening my critiquing muscles, I've written a quick review of Tommy Wirkola's 2009 film Dead Snow. It's what I spent Zombie-jesus day watching, so y'know, apt...
To offer a brief synopsis, a group of Norwegian twenty-somethings head up into the mountains and are all killed by Nazi-Zombies in search of cursed treasure. To offer a more detailed synopsis, a group of Norwegian twenty-somethings head up into the mountains and are all killed by Nazi-Zombies in search of cursed treasure. Really. That's it.
None of our handsome heroes are particularly handsome or heroic, but neither are they all that ugly or cowardly either. They respond to situations with a degree of realism, running away screaming only to steel their nerves and run back to fight, or holding the line as best they can before the reality of their situation dawns on them and they peg it down the mountain screaming FUCKING NAZIS ARE AFTER ME FUCKING NAZIS WHAT THE FUCK
Wow. Normally when I end a sentence like that it's because I've gone word-blind or can't be bothered.
Dead Snow has an awareness of cinematic horror cliches, and makes good semi-ironic use of them, but never pulls them apart through derision or over-discussion of them. In a panicked argument over whether Nazi-Zombies would turn bitten quarter-Jewish victims to their cause, an arm may be chainsawed off, but the characters stop short of replacing the resulting stump with a chainsaw. Groovy.
The grizzled wandering mountain man does his best to dispense warning to the young and reckless but dies alone shortly after, missing his chance to burst through a door axes spinning and guns blazing in the final frame.
It's not Cabin in the Woods because it doesn't need to be Cabin in the Woods. It plays tenderly with conventions rather than bending them backwards over a table, and makes the action and (limited) story speak for itself without the concept stealing the foreground.
It's a romp. One that doesn't try too hard, suggest too much, or leave enough of an open-ended climax for some awful follow-up sequel. It would probably star Christopher Lloyd if it did.
Oh, and my camera's out of the shop again, so expect another deluge of painfully ironic videos anytime soon.