The day after the premiere of Dead Snow 2, and fans already praise the film. But what does Norwegian mainstream media say about the most expensive Norwegian horror film?
The most widely used rating system in Norway is the 6 point system, after the number of pips on a dice. The “dice throw” of 1 – 6 sums up a review of books, music, TV and movies, where 1 is the lowest rating and 6 is the highest. Even food, clothes and politicians get the dice verdicts. Many publications use other graphic symbols such as bottles if reviewing beer, or skulls if reviewing horror films, but the scale is always from 1 to 6. The system was invented in 1952 by a movie critic, but he probably never envisioned it would be used on Nazi zombies having their intestines pulled out!
So, how did Dead Snow 2 go down with the mainstream media critics in Norway?
Local newspaper Bergensavisen gave the film a dice throw of 3, and critizied it for being too gory and violent. The reviewer wrote that director Tommy Wirkola “crossed a line” when he showed a little child being killed and the inner organs pulled out, and some special effects like tearing heads off and bodies crushed looked “quite realistic”, while some zombie masks and extras did not look great; “a masquerade party ending in a fight on a plain”. The essence of the review seems to be that the film was mostly aimed at zombie and splatter fans – as if that was bad in itself. (The same review was also published by Dagsavisen.)
Norway’s biggest newspaper VG also gave the film 3 of 6. Veteran reviewer Jon Selås spent most of his review retelling the story of the film, but managed to feel that all the headless, armless, gut-exploding vomit and bile was “monotonous”, had it not been for “short moments of priceless comedy [and] sweet and beautiful romance”. While Selås thinks there was “no shortage of bowels for inventive extraction”, he also claims the film pauses when dialogue and editing get too chopped up (not a good thing even in horror movies). And in spite of the medium rating, Selås believes the fan crowd “will not get disappointed”. (He gave the original film the exact same rating, by the way.)
State broadcaster NRK’s “film police” on the P3 radio station was more positive, giving the film 5 of 6. Birger Vestmo opens his review with “Nazi zombies walk again in Dead Snow 2, and thanks for that! Director Tommy Wirkola has created pure madness in this sequel. Thanks for that, too!” He states that Dead Snow 2 is “hard to beat” as a “blood gushing, gut throwing, foul mouthed genre celebrating party movie”. He also makes an observation about the film taking place in broad daylight, “which makes it even more important that effects and make-up holds a high quality, and they do”. While “the splatter highlights are queued up”, he also thinks that not all characters are well developed, some are “simply viewers of the action”, including the American zombie squad that flew in to help the Norwegians. Vestmo concludes that the sequel is “bigger, better and more fun than the first film, and will be well received by the fans”. (Vestmo gave the first film 4 of 6.)
Regional newspaper Nordlys agrees and also rolls a 5 on the dice for Dead Snow 2, thanks to “surprisingly mature comedy and jampacked zombie fun from beginning to start”. Rikke Lange wrote that you don’t need to see the first film to understand the sequel due to flashbacks, but you “do need to have the stomach for countless scenes of creative use of guts, children blown up, disabled people being killed in brutal ways and neverending blood splashing all over the place. So absurd that you can laugh at it, and it’s easy to lauch too”. The physical comedy “cannot be complained about” in spite of necrophilia, gay stereotypes and vomit, Lange thinks, adding that “as a whole, the movie works really well. The story and the pace of the film is exactly right, and never becomes too absurd or boring”. Her only complaint is that she wanted a few more jump-scares, but that’s “nitpicking” she says, summing it all up by saying the film is “extremely entertaining”.
Altaposten, from Wirkola’s home town Alta, also rolled a 5, claiming that Wirkola is “faithful to the genre, […] a symphony of extreme exaggerated violence, not for fragile minds.” Reiulf Grønnevik says “the film is not pure violence [as] the story is built of morbit comedy, lots of very funny scenes [and punchlines] that are literally sprayed out from start to finish”. Every technical aspect is also better in the sequel, according to Grønnevik, including the actors. He ends the review by suggesting that “most 15 year olds and up will laugh big from the first to the last scene”.
Another 3 of 6 was given by Håvard Nyhus in regional newspaper Bergens Tidende. He sees the connections to Evil Dead and Braindead (and Titanic!), commenting that “during good moments [there are] more than the mandatory nods to splatter films, [and the film is a] rather stylish genre exercise that manages to include at least some fresh ideas. And it is funny. Sometimes.” The sequel starts where the first film ended “and drives the splatter concept all the way through, [just with more rounds per minute]”. The film is according to Nyhus “more than just a pastiche”. The review does not really go into why the film was given a medium 3 in stead of perhaps a 4 which would be more aligned with the review, but at least it ends with thoughts about the film’s underlying message; the evil that is inside all of us.
Håvard Sandnes in local newspaper Harstad Tidene rolled a 4 and wrote “this splatter comedy is filled to the brim with jokes, witty lines and many Star Wars references”, and also points out many good practical effects but also some CGI. “Not all of it looks great, but this is far from the worst film I’ve seen. I got a good laugh from large portions of the film […] Not for people who wants a good horror movie, as it’s made more like a comedy, though blood and guts abound”.
Lars Weberg in local newspaper Fredrikstad Blad is more happy and awards the film a 5 in a short review that opens with the statement that “there’s something about the dark Nazi aesthetics that goes down well in a zombie setting in a movie”. On the film itself, he comments that Dead Snow 2 is “completely grotesque and far out, drenched in blood, goo and absurdities. But mixed with Wirkola’s dry slapstick humor this works just as good as the first film”. He sums the movie up as a “thundering splatter comedy that works well on its own premises”.
NRK P2 (national radio), Hamar Arbeiderblad, Stavanger Aftenblad, Romsdals Budstikke, Telemarksavisa and Scoopet (local newspapers) also awarded the film 5 of 6. Dead Snow 2 was not shown to the press prior to the premiere, which is why several newspapers did not review it, including Norway’s second largest daily newspaper, Dagbladet.