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Movie Review: Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead

I would like to preface this review by saying I never expected Dead Snow to be a good movie. Something I do to relax and calm my nerves is watch a bad movie and hate on it, which Netflix is the perfect avenue for. I brought up a zombie movie I did not expect it to be good. Dead Snow was a rare exception on Netflix, at least these days. It was a truly good film.

Good, not great. Looking back on it and skimming over the review I did for Dead Snow, something I continually hammered on was director Tommy Wirkola’s lack of direction and the film’s immobility for most of the first half. There was some suspense and there was a little pull on me to stick with it, but I think that pull may have been my want to see a movie at the time and not a pull from Wirkola.

However, I’ve seen Dead Snow twice which means it has some draw to it and I think that draw is that it’s too fun of a movie to not show your friends. It drags, it can be incompetent material at times and it’s certainly not to be taken seriously but it adequately meets the standard of fun.

So I was pumped for Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead. Despite its flaws as a film, I have fond memories of Dead Snow and while I had no idea how the film’s story would transition into a sequel, this was a film I was okay with having a sequel. There are so many sequels these days that are made purely for the dough and not for the story. This was a film that was made for the fun it gave the crew that made it and the fans who watched it. It only made $1.9 million at the box office.

Yes, Dead Snow is a foreign film, made in Norway, so you should probably take that into consideration, but I applaud the efforts. Money was not the top goal here and I truly appreciate that. Nice to see we’re not all obsessed with gold like those Nazi zombies in Dead Snow.

Watching Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead with my roommate and good friend, Jon and some guys around the dorm was a blast and carried so much more weight for me than its predecessor.

For one, Wirkola decided to loosen the reins on this script and just let it flow. The way the dialogue was written, I don’t think Wirkola needed to do much here.

The reason I say that is because Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is more comedy than any zombie movie I have ever seen, including Zombieland. This movie is a gut-buster in more ways than one. Dark humor is a mainstay. Wirkola loves having people lose their intestines so enjoy some of that. Like for real, I think there’s an intestine obsession going on here. Trying saying that three times fast.

The costumes and visual effects took a step up in this film, as did the tempo and entertainment value.

The plot is out there and it’s a go-with-it element. If you’ve been reading this for a while, you know I hate go-with-it elements but when utilized in comedies, it doesn’t bug me as much. Yes, this story is pretty ridiculous on quite a few levels but if you’re willing to accept them for what they are, you can have a real blast with this film.

The comedy writing is phenomenal and the actors do a pretty good job of dropping their lines into our greedy, give-me-more hands. With that said, this film isn’t all a party. Action sequences are taken seriously even if some of the kills in this film are exceedingly preposterous. Not saying that some of these kills would or would not happen, but the creativity this film offers with our zombie-executions is remarkable. It kept me laughing the whole way through.

The amount of time that these actors invested into this film can be demonstrated not by their performances but by the way they handle these roles. The timing is perfect. No joke fell flat. If anything, it felt like each one was on an escalator. After each one, we found ourselves holding our breath in anticipation of the next one. Then the dominoes of our self-control would come crumbling down after yet another brilliantly-executed gag.

Yet, there was something that Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead was missing and it took me a couple minutes following the film to realize what it was. What Wirkola’s sequel is missing is not uncommon. Nearly every comedy I watch is missing it because when screenwriters go to the drawing board, this isn’t the first, second or third thing that comes to their minds. The thing that’s missing is a takeaway, a life lesson.

A quick example of what I mean by life lesson can be demonstrated in a speech in Step Brothers.

Yeah, I’ll own up to it. I just used a Will Ferrell film to demonstrate what I love in comedies. Sometimes his films really miss the mark, but Step Brothers was not one of them.

At the infamous Catalina Wine Mixer, we get a speech that indirectly says, grow up, but never forget your childhood. I’m talking about the “don’t lose your dinosaur” speech.

If you haven’t seen Step Brothers yet, shame on you sir/madam. Shame on you.

Basically, the whole reason Step Brothers gets so many point from me (I haven’t written a review on this yet but when I do, I think my score will surprise you) is because it understood that life can’t be all about laughs. It isn’t. That’s not how life works. Life gets serious more often than it gets funny and while we watch comedies to distract us from the stresses of our lives, we need to be given some confidence as well, something that gives us that boost of motivation to want to go back out there and weather the storm. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is missing that.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (TwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead Snow)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead: 72.

You’ll find brand new fire in this installment and it’s a jolly good time, but absence of the reflection element, as well as any real character depth, does make this a journey without a compass. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead still comes highly recommended from me. It is sure to tickle your funny bone at some point.

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