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Severed Premiere at Jackman Hall

There is a story about Mark Twain. He loved to swear but his wife hated it. One day, hoping to reform him, she repeated back every profanity he had uttered. He said: "You got the words right, Livy, but you don't know the tune."

That story reminds me of the zombie movie "Severed" by director Carl Bessai. It takes place in the British Columbian rainforest. A group of loggers and tree huggers are forced to put their differences aside and fight the undead horde. It's a great idea. I attended the premiere at Jackman Hall looking forward to hippie-eating zombies, limbs being chopped off by chainsaws and a few chuckles. But that, unfortunately, was not what I got.

What I got was a Zombie movie that took itself far too seriously.

The most frustrating thing about "Severed" is that all of the elements of a good zombie movie are there. You have the person walking through the abandoned place yelling "Hello?" to what we suspect are the hiding undead. You have the scene where the once good friend has become one of them and must be killed. And you have the tension of two groups of enemies being forced together in tight and dangerous circumstances. But "Severed" fails to deliver on any of these promises. It just doesn't work.

Part of this may be because the film was shot in sixteen days with an ever decreasing cast of zombies. The other part may be because this is a film. Zombie movies should be movies. While "28 Days Later" was able to walk that tightrope, this film hangs itself with it. Slowly.

Severed looks for a fair approach to the environmental issue by seeking the good sides of loggers and environmentalists. This would usually be fine but since when are zombie movies fair. At best they see the worst in everybody. Zombies don't bring people together. They tear them apart. That is the essence of the horror.

Despite beautiful scenery, good ideas, some good performances (particularly that of Sarah Lind as Rita) and the fundamental talent of director Carl Bessai this movie falls flat. It doesn't deliver horror, it certainly doesn't deliver laughs and the theme of corporate greed run amok has been tackled by better movies. I have to commend Carl Bessai for taking a chance while hoping that he returns to the realism he does so well.


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