Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead had a lot to live up to, with the original Dead Snow ranking amongst my favourite films. There was considerable worry about this follow up, however. Director Tommy Wirkola’s 2013 film Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters bore all the hallmarks of a European director who’d gone into the American system with an interesting idea, only to be chewed up and spat out with a bland, below par product. Adding to this was the disconcerting amount of Americans in the trailer for Dead Snow 2, suggesting the gleefully excessive gore of the original had been pasteurized for consumption on the other side of the Atlantic.
Have no fear. Early on Dead Snow 2 practically issues a statement of intent and reassurance with it’s uncaring treatment of a child. From start to finish Dead Snow 2 is an unrelenting barrage of hilarity, violent or otherwise. Every joke lands, with several including wheelchairs, exploding heads against buses and seagulls particularly having the audience doubled over with laughter.
And while the jokes are unrelenting, the film manages to keep the story moving briskly and summons genuine excitement. Vegar Hoel is fantastic reprising his role as Martin, bringing a believable and captivating mania to a now equally weakened and strengthened character you can really root for. As writers Wirkola, Hoel and Stig Frode Henriksen make Martin’s vendetta against approaching-iconic undead Nazi captain Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) thrilling. The comedy never undermines the dramatic tension of this cartoon universe in a brilliant balancing act.
It’s clear that the American Zombie Squad are present to justify an evidently increased budget and are somewhat spare parts. Several jokes allow them to earn their keep though, and this is a minor imperfection in an otherwise perfect movie.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead isn’t just the best horror of 2014 so far, it’s the best film of 2014 so far.