Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead is what Dead Snow should have been. It eschews the horror fanboy posturing of the first film – which was rife with nods to other films and didn't do all that much to stand from the gore-drenched horror-comedy pack – and finds its own wacky voice. I know I'm in the minority when it comes to an assessment of Dead Snow (I've spoken to many fans since it's been released), but I can say that if you disliked the first film, you'll likely have a blast with Dead Snow 2 and if you liked the first film, you're going to go nuts for this.
The sequel embraces the absurdity of the premise and carries it across the finish line, crushing heads, crushing cars, blowing up baby carriages and obliterating everyone and everything along the way with sadistic glee.
Picking up right where the last film left off, Dead Snow 2 finds Martin nursing an amputed arm and fleeing from a resurrected army of Nazis led by the seemingly indomitable Herzog. Through a series of events – I don't want to get into too much spoiler-y detail – Martin winds up in a hospital with Herzog's arm grafted on to his body. This arm seems to come with its own strength and Martin will use his newfound abilities to go head-to-head with Herzog and his army. And Martin isn't alone; he's joined by Daniel (Martin Starr, who randomly co-stars) and his merry band of zombie hunters as well as a few other surprises.
Dead Snow 2 is director Tommy Wirkola going full-throttle. The film is bigger, packs more gore and takes things outlandish new directions. At the same time, though, it's so morally questionable and wrong on so many levels. Audiences cheering and laughing at Herzog's mayhem – which includes an all-out splatterfest assault on various townsfolk – should feel at least a modicum of discomfort. After all…they're Nazis, guys. Still, Wirkola thematically balances this with Martin's journey. Our hero is essentially a man equipped with Nazi power and is turning it against them.
The film's structure is so ridiculously simple – it's a chase film, essentially – and a welcome change from the forest-set/cabin in the woods scenario of the first film. Here, Wirkola is working on a larger canvas and, overall, seemingly has more money to play with. And it's all on the screen. There's still a part of this film that throws nods to other films, but it's not as dominant or obnoxious.
It's probably my favorite Wirkola film to date; Dead Snow 2 is also – to me, at least – that rare instance in which a sequel outdoes its predecessor.