Picking up where its cabin-in-the-woods style predecessor left off, Dead Snow 2’s Martin is in the midst of successfully escaping from a horde of Nazi zombies. His friends have not been so lucky, not least his girlfriend Hanna who died from an axe wound administered by Martin himself. Now, whilst Martin is in the clutch of the somewhat sceptical police, the Nazis have a new target in their sights: the town of Talvik, inhabited by 3000 people and soon to be the recipient of some Nazi revenge.
There is some good news: the arm which Martin lost at the end of the first film has been replaced. The bad news is that it’s actually the supernaturally strong arm of the Nazi General Herzog. Martin must now learn how to utilise this force for the powers of good, which he eventually does by raising an undead army of Soviet POWs intent on avenging their deaths at the hands of the Nazis. Joined throughout the film by a barely-closeted WWII museum guide, three American siblings acting as amateur Zombie slayers and a repeatedly-reanimated zombie sidekick, Martin moves fast to kick zombie ass and defend Talvik.
If this all sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is – gloriously so. Whilst the film is set in a universe where the characters are very much aware of zombie rules, it promptly discards them all. This creates, as Zombie Squad member Daniel puts it, “a whole new genre”; one where zombies can be reanimated or people permanently killed more or less at will.
The writers have gleefully seized upon the potential for violence this creates. Heads are stomped, intestines are used to siphon petrol and skulls are cleaved in an ecstasy of screams and splattered blood. It’s intense, and at times harrowing, but the shock factor just about manages to hold out until the film reaches its climax.
The film is also witty, albeit less so than the first instalment. This is partially because the original had the benefit of surprise, and could delight the audience by becoming gradually and insidiously farcical. Red vs. Dead, on the other hand, has a reputation to uphold, and has decided that in order to do this, more is better.
While, in a sense, this is what makes Dead Snow 2 so awesome, it’s also the source of its weaknesses: a hugely jacked-up body count leaves room for not much else. The local police force are a source of comedy but ultimately superfluous. The jabs at the museum guide’s homosexuality are trite and a bit too snide. Worst of all, the film has succumbed to the temptation to bring in American characters to save the day, an insult which is compounded by the tired and unfunny jabs at their supposed nerdiness.
However, a sensitive and well-rounded portrayal of events is not Red vs. Dead’s intention. Instead, it gives you innards, laugh-out-loud humour, explosions and a LOT of zombies – and it does it bloody well.