Director – Tommy Wirkola
Cast – Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Charlotte Frogner, Derek Mears
Release Year – 2014
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Horror films and sequels are nothing out of the ordinary , but sequels that are just as good, or better, than the original are a rarity. That is why I was surprised at all of the positive reviews I was coming across for Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead. I am not a big fan of Dead Snow, but I liked it enough to write a positive review. For me, it had too much CGI gore and wasted potential because of that. Well, that is not the case with this sequel. For the first time in several years I have experienced a sequel that I enjoy more than the original, thanks to solid horror and loads of live-action gore.
After watching Nazi zombies brutally gore his best friends, accidentally killing his girlfriend, and having to cut off his own arm, Martin realizes that the worst day of his life is only the beginning to a living nightmare as Herzog returns to carry out revenge for one of Hitler’s failed missions.
The story takes off immediately after its predecessor, where a medical mishap leaves Martin’s arm replaced with the arm of Herzog himself. While initially problematic, this new evil arm allows Martin to escape the hospital (and police presence) and eventually…use its power to avenge the deaths of his companions. With Herzog’s army growing stronger by the hour as they turn their victims into soldiers, Martin must team with a gay WW2 museum staffer and a trio of American siblings who refer to themselves as the “Zombie Squad”. These supporting characters provide a fun element for the viewer to enjoy, and the fun does not stop there. What impressed me most about this story was its no-holds-barred approach to the violence. Nobody is safe from the legion of undead Nazis. Whether it is the elderly, the crippled, or babies in strollers, all will be disemboweled or blown to smithereens and you will LAUGH like I did. The overall story is very general and the writers, returning from the first film with the addition of actor Vegar Hoel, rely on “the goods” to sell it to the viewer. Despite the story focusing on one main location I never found myself bored or un-engaged in what was going on. The violence is plentiful and it rarely relents. On top of that, I was glad to see the story expand to include the resurrection of Russian POWs to join Martin in defeating Herzog’s army. This sequel’s story took full advantage of the potential set up by its predecessor, and THAT is how you solidify a franchise.
Tommy Wirkola returns as the film’s director and I was glad to see him improve on what he started. I mentioned earlier that Dead Snow had too much CGI gore for my tastes, but with a much bigger budget ($4.5 million vs. the original’s $800K) Wirkola employed bountiful amounts of live-action gore. He employed actors that portrayed their colorful characters to enjoyable lengths, with Vegar Hoel portraying Martin as the one serious role to keep us grounded and remind us that we fear zombies, not laugh at them. His execution of the kills is also fantastic, and he compliments the no-holds-barred deaths with full-frontal execution. We see intestines unraveled, heads ripped open/apart, and the young/old brutally mauled with confident cinematography. The extremes are what make this film so fun, and it is obvious that with three solid feature films in five years, Tommy Wirkola is no longer a newcomer, but a name to take seriously.
Overall, Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead is one of the most fun horror experiences I have come across in recent time. With live gore, lots of great kill sequences, and intense execution, this is a flick I highly recommend.