Zombies. I know I railed against zombies in fiction earlier this year while struggling to find a Z post for the A to Z Blog Challenge. I don’t like the tropes usually on display in zombie movies because they usually follow characters I don’t care about getting menaced by creatures I also don’t care about. The movies are built on jump scares becauses the evil creatures are usually slow and stupid. Zombies also flooded the market almost as bad as possession and ghost movies which are often just as guilty of bad filmmaking. Still, I can’t write off an entire genre just because I don’t like a vast majority of the movies. So, I gave it another shot because the idea of this movie intrigued me.
I admit I had to restart this movie after a few minutes because I did not realize that it is a Norwegian film and that I would be reading subtitles instead of listening to dialogue. I’m totally ok with this as I enjoy the hell out of subtitled anime and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The thought of it being a foreign film also intrigued me because maybe they’d have a slightly different take on the zombie genre. Also, (spoiler alert) the zombies are nazis and I think Europe has a better perspective on who the Nazis were. Also, once again we’re combining supernatural threats with wintertime weather which is somehow a recipe for terror and/or hilarity.
(Interesting note: In Norwegian Bokmal “Pilsener” apparently sounds like “Piss” which is what I think it tastes like anyway)
This movie hits the tried and true horror film technique of showing you some excitement right away and then cutting to peaceful happenings and dragging that out for a long time. For a long period it combines the desolation of snow covered mountains with the utter helplessness of a pitch black night. It only uses touches of music so we’re left with dialogue, sound effects and a lot of silence. The silence gets really, really creepy. In fact, there’s an interesting cadence to the way the dialogue goes. People tend to pause ever so slightly in their speech and there is a similar awkward pause between responses. Normally I would think this would be bad direction (like in A Touch of Satan) but it’s done with a light but intentional touch here. It’s especially on display during a long, dramatic warning from an elderly stranger which is also a common technique in horror movies.
There’s a lot of stuff in the movie that is unique. Most of it is probably because it is a Norwegian film set in Norway. The landscape is stark white as it is covered in snow and ends up looking, at least to me, like an alien landscape. It actually looks pretty terrifying as there is a lot of wide open, treeless space in the mountains but it’s still very easy to get lost in the wilderness. What music there is Norwegian jam bands and Norwegian metal bands which provide high energy to the light-hearted scenes in contrast to the silent, scarier scenes. The cold is a huge part of the movie as they did a good job making you feel the cold as you watch. The zombies have grayish and sometimes blackened skin with somewhat frozen expressions much like people who died out in the elements. Then, of course there’s the Nazis who occupied Norway back during World War II.
Beyond that there is the usual very graphic zombie gore and frightened young people getting attacked by monsters that a lot of these horror movies have. This isn’t quite the typical zombie movie though as the zombies have some sentience to them. The movie’s pretty dire but it also has great bits of humor here and there that I was grateful to latch onto. Though, most of this movie is grim as hell. I actually think they used comic timing for evil throughout as things feel like they should be funny but are horrifying. I would definitely suggest you check it out if you’re in for something with a slightly different flavor.