Friday, January 30, 2015

A Well Made Massacre

I think most people would agree there are different kinds of bad movies. The standard breakdown might be between so-bad-its-good unintentionally funny movies, tedious egotistical movies, hollow propaganda films--there are a million colours in the shit rainbow, essentially. But I'm concerned to-day with my personal least favourite kind of bad movie, I think I might call it "bootlicker bad". Such a movie is 2009's Dead Snow. It feels like it's made by someone who has no idea what movies mean but thinks filmmakers are the important people in the crowd so tags along with them, scrupulously aping every gesture and inflection but executing each with an inevitable, grating hollowness.

Moments and characters and concepts from other modern horror films are deployed devoid of any artistic intention and become totally false. Nazi zombies like a more conservative version of Tarantino/Rodriguez neo-exploitation films. A guy who's a hardcore movie fan like in Scream or Nick Frost in Shaun of the Dead to point out the tropes. Someone dramatically being killed by their friend accidentally in the heat of battle like in The Descent.

The protagonists are introduced as an obnoxious group of spoiled college kids like in Hostel but I suspect director Tommy Wirkola thought we were supposed to love those characters in Hostel because after a few homophobic jokes and shallow speculations about sex on the ride to the isolated cabin, the characters become rather indistinct. As one review points out, they're interchangeable except one of them loves movies and one of them is afraid of blood.

The zombies themselves are meaningless echoes of actual menace. Even the cheapest sudden jump out scares didn't work on me. It was obvious everything the zombies did was subject to what Wirkola thought the acceptable thing was to have them doing at any particular time during a movie. Early on, they can appear and disappear instantly so people can question whether they even saw anything, then they're a huge walking army that can be outran. Early on they had super strength to kill quickly, then they're losing in fistfights as the act where the threat is supposed to be nameless and unstoppable ends and the act where we're supposed to get off on the heroes cutting limbs with chainsaws begins. The gore effects are okay but rendered completely insubstantial by the director's inability to express feeling in the medium, even puerile feeling.

A real filmmaker could have shot something in these locations. Someone could've bought the camera who deserved it. Clothing, food, language, light, wood, and birds are all insulted for their inclusion in this film.

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