Dead Snow ~ A Non-Spoiler Review

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Montage of scenes from Dead Snow. Central image is the theatrical poster for the film.


Dead Snow (2009) is a Norwegian comedy, horror, fantasy film available on Prime video rent/buy £3.49/£5.99. 1 hr 32 min. Cert 18 U.K. Norwegian with English subtitles.


“A ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students, as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies.” IMDb


Jeppe Beck Laursen as Erlend
Charlotte Frogner as Hanna
Jenny Skavlan as Chris
Vegar Hoel as Martin
Stig Frode Henriksen as Roy
Lasse Valdal as Vegard
Evy Kasseth Røsten as Liv
Ane Dahl Torp as Sara
Bjørn Sundquist as Turgåer
Ørjan Gamst as Oberst Herzog

English-language poster for Dead Snow


Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writers: Tommy Wirkola & Stig Frode Henriksen
Cinematographer Matthew Weston
Composer: Christian Wibe
Editor: Martin Stolz
Costume: Linn Henriksen
Make-Up: Lene Bruksås, Kjetil Flatey, Elisabeth Lusie Haugan, Per Steinar Hoftun, Steinar Kaarstein, Shino Kotani, Ragnhild Prestholt, Janne Røhmen, Gudmund Saksvik
Special Effects: Kevin Carter (contact lenses), Dan Erik Heggelund (pyrotechnician), Hummer Højmark, Carl Oscar Meyer Johansen, Steinar Kaarstein (blood effects)
Visual Effects: Supervisor Bryan Jones
Stunts: Kristoffer Jørgensen, Bas Altena (climber), Tom Roger Brumoen, Johannes Eilertsen, Steinar Kaarstein, Glen Levy, Joe Perez

Norwegian-language poster for Dead Snow. Note: “ein” should be “eins”.


The Nazi zombies in this film are a combination of ancient beings in Norse myths called “draug” and typical zombies. A “draug” was undead and would inhabit graves especially of important men whose graves would contain treasure. Draugs protect the treasures as their own.

Erland’s “Brain Dead” T-shirt is a homage to the New Zealand zombie movie of the same name.

Filming locations:
Alta, Finnmark, Norway and Målselv, Troms, Norway.

Norwegian-language poster for Dead Snow


Hot on the heels of watching Tommy Wirkola’s The Trip (Netflix) I decided to dive into his back catalogue of madcap horror and watch Dead Snow an everyday story of trainee doctors off on a trip to a cabin in the mountains of Norway. What could possibly go wrong? As it happens, everything you could think of and more, unless you were thinking “Nazi zombies” that is.

Dead Snow opens with a fantastic blue-filtered chase scene through a forest, all accompanied by Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” (more on the use of music in this film later). We see that it is a woman being chased but not much more than that.

A fair amount of time is spent introducing the characters and setting the scene. We are told that Sara is coming over the mountains on her own to meet everyone else at the cabin. Yes, a cabin… For anyone keen on the horror genre, we know already what is likely to ensue (and it will not be a nice sauna).

The crew of 5 budding doctors, one of whom is afraid of blood, another claustrophobic, throw in at least one obsessed with sex and a film nerd (cue an earlier discussion about horror films where there is a cabin and no mobile phone coverage). This film is full of ironic foreshadowing!

These young people have a great time initially on the show with snowball fights (wait until you’re fighting for your lives later guys!) being dragged around in a tyre behind a snowmobile and tobogganing etc.

At this juncture I should mention the scenery in this film, it is fabulous, and I must say that they made the best use of it. We have big widescreen aerial shots and stunning landscapes. The mountain itself and the forested areas are so atmospheric and often very beautiful. Even when one is on his snowmobile off to get help he stops, eats a sandwich and appreciates the beauty…

A strange visitor pays a visit and tells a tale of terrible events during World War 2 carried out by the local Einsatz leader and his men. This, of course, in the true spirit of horror films where no one ever takes the locals seriously at first is laughingly dismissed by the youngsters (the confidence of youth).

Various games are played such as Twister, people are having fun and then… they find a box of golden coins, yes a real treasure. At this point we get a nod to Indiana Jones with the iconic line:

“Fortune and glory, kid, fortune and glory.”

A scene from Dead Snow

It is at this point in the film that things go seriously wrong and it’s worth directing you to the notes about what a “draug” is because that’s intrinsic to the plot. The story of Dead Snow is innovative in that it clearly draws on this mythology. It also has sizeable plot holes in places but, honestly, ignore them as sometimes they are worth it for the gag that is shoehorned in.

Dead Snow is FULL of homages and nods towards classic and more obscure horror films. Those who have watched horror movies will spot them from methods of death to weaponry. Talking of weaponry, if you watch this you will notice that at one point Roy is fighting using a hammer and sickle (think about it…)

What can I say about the violence in Dead Snow? This film is full of superfluous, totally over the top violence, blood splatter, guts and gore with some really gruesome methods of maiming and killing. And it is very funny! At no time does this movie take itself too seriously or forget what it is.

I mentioned earlier I would touch on the use of music again. Not only is the original score perfect and amps up the scare factor with heavy rock/scream tracks but the use of classical music such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Ode to Joy” during a mass Nazi zombie attack/chase is inspired. I actually applauded in this part of the film.

Massive kudos to the Make-Up, Costume, Special Effects and Stunt departments in Dead Snow. The costumes, blood gags, the make-up of the zombies (including their eyes), the fire, the fantastic snowmobile and climbing stunts (remember the Norwegian undead can climb trees kids) and so much more.

I loved the direction of this which cranks up the pace once the Nazis attack and never lets up (well Tommy gives you the occasional breather but honestly, my senses were so heightened I could not relax anyway). There are a good few jump scares and I admit to jumping at some bits that were probably not intended to be jump scares at all.

There is a LOT of very impressive cinematography which enhances the whole atmosphere and makes the chase scenes very real. Plus those aerials and big, wide landscapes. It must have been tricky with the variable weather conditions. The editing is fabulous!

The cast in this is really good and include some of the crew (take a look at the notes). You can see a lot of them in other productions since this movie. Bjørn Sundquist was amazing in telling the story (some of you will recognise him as Wotan from Ragnarok). I expect some of the filming was not exactly pleasant, what with the snow and the cold… and the Nazi zombies. Characters get some spectacular deaths.

Dead Snow is a horror film, so if you are averse to lots of scary chasing, bloodthirsty, over the top violence and being made to jump out of your skin, then this will probably not be your cup of tea. If you are like me, however, and love dark humour combined with horror (something the Norwegians have a distinct flair for) then you will, hopefully, love it as much as I did. Just do not snuggle up in a nice warm cabin and settle down to watch!


1 win and 6 nominations

Win: Toronto After Dark Film Festival (2009) Best Feature Film

Nominations: Kosmorana, Trondheim International Film Festival (2010) Best Producer ~ Terje Strømstad & Tomas Evjen; Best Editing ~ Martin Stolz; Best Innovation ~ Tommy Wirkola

Scream Awards (2009) Best Horror Movie; Fight Scene of the Year ~ Vegar Hoel & Stig Frode Henriksen; Best Foreign Movie


Link to The Trip review:

The Trip ~ A Non-Spoiler Review

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