Review: Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

Dead Snow 2 Red Vs. Dead Tommy Wirkola horror nazi zombie review

PLOT: After narrowly escaping the horde of nazi zombies that killed his friends, Martin must team with a trio of American zombie hunters and an army of Soviet undead to defeat his decaying nemesis, Herzog.

REVIEW: Outrageous, insane, disgusting… and hilarious. There are many words to describe DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS. DEAD, but none really get to its daffy core quite accurately enough. It's one of those "you have to see it for yourself" experiences. Just bring a rain coat with you, because the viscera practically flies off the screen. (Try to keep your mouth closed, too.)

Dead Snow 2 Red Vs. Dead Tommy Wirkola horror nazi zombie review

Tommy Wirkola returns to direct, five years after he first showed us a brigade of nazi zombies tear up a batch of hapless Norwegians. That film was adequate, but left me wanting. I appreciated its sick sense of humor, and some of the ghastly murders brought the necessary gross-out factor, but it felt like it was trying to hard to enter the Cult Classic club; that over-eagerness turned me off slightly. But Wirkola, fresh from his Hollywood debut (the also "just okay" HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS) has gone the extra mile with RED VS. DEAD, which shrugs off any pretensions and simply seeks to deliver over-the-top carnage coupled with a just-plain-wrong twisted sense of humor. Indeed, RED. VS. DEAD will only be stomached by those who are more prone to laugh at the sight of a sandbox full of children being run over by a tank than those who will be horrified.

Picking up mere minutes after the last film's finale, we find the only survivor of the massacre, the one-armed Martin (Vegar Hoel), attempting to drive away from the scene of the nightmare but still finding himself besieged by zombies. The nazi zombie in command is Herzog (Orjan Gamst), who manages to waylay Martin's escape and crash the car; the nazi's arm being severed in the process. Waking up in the hospital, Martin learns – to his great and understandable dismay – that a doctor has unwittingly attached the nazi arm to his body. Fairly distressing news, but when Martin finds the arm has both super strength and the power to wake the dead, he sees his chance to stop Herzog's ongoing reign of terror once and for all.

Martin has some help, too, in the form of the Zombie Squad, a trio of dorky Americans who've been just waiting for their chance to squash a zombie uprising. Led by Daniel (Martin Starr), the three travel to Norway (or Iceland standing in for Norway) to lend a hand, although they mostly get in the way. More useful back-up arrives when Martin decides to resurrect a squadron of dead Soviets, who were Herzog's bitter enemies during the war.

Dead Snow 2 Red Vs. Dead Tommy Wirkola horror nazi zombie review

An outlandish story like this needs a kitchen-sink approach, and Wirkola throws everything at us. As the nazis rage across the country, stopping at every small village to slaughter its inhabitants, Wirkola pushes the envelope of good taste right off the table; bludgeonings, stabbings, smashings, dismemberments, exploding bodies and more fill the screen like gushing party favors. The attitude is close to Peter Jackson's DEAD ALIVE, although with an even more flippant air of "don't give a f*ck." I must admit, I laughed more during DEAD SNOW 2's genocides than I have in a long time. You might feel a twinge of guilt chuckling at an exploding baby carriage, but I most certainly did not. (Though perhaps that just says something about me.)

What's not so funny, unfortunately, are Wirkola's more traditional attempts at humor. His zombie squad characters, specifically Daniel's female companions Monica (Jocelyn DeBoer) and Blake (Ingrid Haas) offer some strained comic relief, although none of it is actually amusing. Monica has a tendency to quote STAR WARS, which is a lame way of letting us know she's a geek, but any real geek in the audience will be rolling their eyes. Additionally, Wirkola feels the need to throw in a gay sidekick (Stig Frode Henriksen, who actually co-wrote the move and thus the role) who behaves in a stereotypically effeminate manner. It's as if Wirkola isn't confidant the grisly antics of his nazis will get laughs, so he's added a handful of silly characters to clown around, but it's all very unnecessary and actually holds the movie back a bit from becoming truly phenomenal. Besides, Hoel's Martin is actually a very strong lead; the actor doesn't actually need the goofy support.

Wirkola proves himself a fairly good orchestrator of action, too. If you can get past the flying limbs, you'll see each sequence is quite well-crafted. A major showdown at the end, featuring nazi zombies fighting Soviet zombies, is intentionally positioned as the undead equivalent of one of BRAVEHEART's epic battles. I thought HANSEL AND GRETEL was a bit of a mess during its action scenes, too hectic and loud. Here Wirkola shows a more steady hand displaying his mayhem. It doesn't hurt that his make-up crew has done a fantastic job rendering these ghoulish combatants; every single zombie has clearly had plenty of attention paid to them, making them genuinely frightening to behold. But that's about as frightening as this jolly, bloody good time gets.

If you live in L.A. and want to attend a free screening of DEAD SNOW 2 tonight, Tuesday, October 7th, CLICK HERE!

Review: Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead




About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.