My loving parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas so I went for some DVDs that:
- looked entertaining
- were recent
- didn’t cost much
- Dead Snow (cert 18)
- Monsters (cert 12)
It’s still holiday time so I’m watching them back-to-back.
“Dead Snow” is a lovely romp through the pristine snow of the Norwegian mountains. The scenery is breath-taking and the cabin in the hills seems idyllic (even with an outside loo). Most of the film is given over to the eight medical students that plan to … oops, seven … ah, make that six … ooh, that’s got to hurt … and there goes his planned career … so, like I said, there are a couple of medical students in a cabin. Spoke too soon, scrub the cabin.
I really enjoyed this movie; there’s humour but it’s not strictly a comedy; there’s gore but it’s not sick. The style owes a lot to the long history of teens-partying-in-the-wilderness horror movies, such as Evil Dead (and Evil Dead 2 which is just a remake with a bigger budget) which this film admits almost on page 1 (or it would if it was a novelisation). The plot has been used many times as well, although weaving in the Nazi occupation of Norway is a nice twist when it would have been so much easier to fall back on mining the vast mother lode of Scandinavian folklore. Nazi zombies, though, are the obvious choice over svartálfar, tusser and troll ((although The Trollhunter looks a good movie…)).
A review is not complete without at least one gripe:
- How many young medical students are going to recognise the purpose of, let along use, a Model 24 Stielhandgranate?
“Monsters” runs at a much slower pace and is not the sort of movie I was expecting with such a title. The background is that Northern Mexico is a no-go area after a space probe returning with evidence of alien life crashed there six years ago and the military is still struggling to contain the new life forms that were born. The story follows two Americans trying to get back to the USA by whatever means they can before a 6-month clampdown on air and sea travel leaves them stuck ((which is such an appallingly weak, almost paper-thin, MacGuffin here)).
The main body of the film does not focus on the aliens at all. Instead there is the interaction between the main characters, lots of travelling on trains and trucks, how the Mexicans culture is dealing with their new neighbours, and the detritus of drawn out hostilities. When the aliens do turn up, they are either shown as creatures of wonder or monsters best kept in Jurassic Park.
I can see that the film is designed to make you think on several levels.
- Different doesn’t automatically mean monstrous or evil
- There is beauty to be found in all creatures
- You can’t fight nature – it will find a way
- Mexicans are people too (Mexico–United States barrier)
My gripe? They should have gone to Mexico City and get a flight to Florida. Job done.