War of the Dead (Marko Mäkilaasko, 2011)
I was all set to love this movie—a Finnish knock-off of Norway’s first, and best, Nazi zombie flick, Død Snø, that also happens to star Invincible‘s Jouko Ahola. How could you possibly go wrong? Well, in quite a few ways, as it turns out. This is depressing, because War of the Dead wanted to be a better movie than it is, and it almost, but not quite, succeeded. In fact, it might be possible to make a case that Paul Campion’s The Devil’s Rock, released the same year, is exactly the film War of the Dead wanted to be, but didn’t quite get there.
Plot: An American platoon, deep in the middle of nowhere (the accents sounded kind of Austrian to me, one synopsis tells me they’re in Russia, another one says in the Carpathians—how does that even make sense in WW2?), comes upon a platoon of the enemy, ambushes them, and wipes them out. Everyone’s happy. Well, except the guys on the other side of that firefight, they’re pretty pissed. So what do they do? Get right back up and start eating the erstwhile victors. Obviously, things are not what they seem in this little corner of the world, and our hapless survivors find themselves tasked with a much more important mission than the simple wiping out of a bunker…
Any number of good ideas to be found here, but none of them actually come to fruition. I suspect an overzealous editing hand was involved in at least part of this, as in the last third or thereabouts things get incoherent now and again; all the setup and pacing disappear into action scene after action scene, and it struck me on a number of occasions that there should have been stuff in between the bullets flying and zombies stomping and all that sort of thing. By the end I was wondering if everyone involved hadn’t simply given up and decided to release whatever came out of the editing room. A depressing thought, but the only hypothesis that made any sense in my head—at least, it made more sense than the actual movie did. I’d love to see the shooting script to find out what was actually supposed to happen. * ½