Severed DVD Review
Written by Daniel Benson
DVD released by Force Entertainment
Directed by Carl Bessai
Written by Carl Bessai and Travis McDonald
2005, Region 4 (PAL), 91 minutes, Rated MA15+ (Australia)
DVD released on October 17th, 2005
Starring:Leanne Adachi as Stacey
JR Bourne as Carter
Sage Brocklebank as Mills
Paul Campbell as Tyler
A multi-national forestry corporation has lost contact with its most profitable logging site. The site has been dogged by protests and sabotage attempts by an environmental group protesting about the deforestation. In order to damage equipment, and sometimes lives, they “spike” the trees with hardened nails — leaving a nasty surprise for any lumberjack using a chainsaw.
Thinking that the protesters are responsible for the break in communication, one of the corporation’s directors sends his son, Tyler, to investigate.
When Tyler arrives at the site he finds out the truth behind what has been happening. The corporation has been experimenting with GX1134, a genetic growth hormone, designed to increase yield from the forest. What they didn’t realise was that when GX1134 gets into a human bloodstream, it turns the host into a stumbling, cannibalistic, zombie-like creature…
Suddenly the hippies are starting to realise that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to chain themselves to trees, in a forest overrun with zombies.
Tyler hooks up with a mismatched band of survivors, consisting of lumberjacks, scientists and environmentalists. Together, they have to figure out a way to get out of the forest and make contact with the corporation.
Imagine 28 Days Later meets Romero’s Dead movies. In a forest. That pretty much sums up Severed, a fairly enjoyable zombie romp, set in the great outdoors, that seems to have slipped under the radar of most horror fans.
If you’re looking for some fresh ideas and a new twist on the undead genre, you certainly won’t find it here. Not content with just making his own zombie movie, Carl Bessai appears to have ripped huge chunks out of more popular, recent offerings and set them against the backdrop of a forest, somewhere in the wilds of Canada. The first third of the movie, and the shaky, handheld camera style, is straight out of 28 Days Later. The middle section is the standard “run, fight and hole up somewhere for a while” used in every damn zombie movie, while the third portion is a “meet up with another group of (male) survivors, who start to get a little horny because they’re now around women” scenario.
Really, I’m making it sound a lot worse than it is. Despite the fact there’s nothing at all original or fresh in the movie, it’s still a reasonably enjoyable ride. The budget sufficiently provides a competent cast, who own their cookie-cutter characters with aplomb. Certainly, Paul Campbell, as Tyler, brings depth to his role as the rich-kid sent to get his hands dirty, even if his unlikely romance with one of the environmentalists pushes the boundaries of plausibility. JR Carter is great as the loathsome, cowardly scientist Carter, his performance being so good I literally cheered when he met his demise. There’s also plenty of claret for the gorehounds, and the movie is well edited, which makes the running time fly by.
Think of Severed as the cinematic equivalent of a donut; enjoyable for a quick fix, but ultimately leaves you wanting something more.
Video and Audio:
The movie appears to have been shot on digital video, then left in the hands of an over-zealous filter maniac. The picture looks (intentionally) grainy, and it matches the hand-held, guerrilla filmmaking style of the camerawork very well. Blacks are deep and solid, but there are scenes where sparklies appear on different textures, such as skin or clothing. This can be quite off-putting when you’re trying to concentrate on the scenes in question. It is presented in its original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio on this PAL disc.
Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, which is nicely balanced and fits the movie perfectly well. No problems hearing the dialogue above the incidental music or sound effects.