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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 148: Severed: Forest Of The Dead

Severed: Forest Of The Dead
Y'know, some moisturizer will clear that right up

Zombies are the “it” thing right now. Vampires had their day, thanks to the ridiculously dreadful Twilight series that made true horror fans upchuck their fake blood capsules. Now, in part to the popularity of The Walking Dead series on television, Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide/World War Z, and the unfortunate Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, the undead are no longer for the horror geeks and nerds. It kind of takes the fun out of it when non-horror fans sport cutesy zombie shirts. I'm actually wearing one right now, but I'm awesome, so it's cool. With this new found popularity, horror has been inundated with zombie movies for the past 4-5 years. Most range from decent to terrible with more pointing towards the latter. Let's give one a try that came out just before the big zombie craze.

Severed is a 2005 horror movie starring Paul Campbell (88 Minutes, Battlestar Galactic) as Tyler, the son of a wealthy CEO in charge of a forestry company. Environmental protestors, led by Rita (Sarah Lind, Edgemont, Mentors), are trying to stop the company from deforesting, even chaining themselves up to trees. The company has employed scientists to produce trees that are capable of growing much faster than nature intended. A logger cutting down one of the trees accidentally takes a chainsaw to the shoulder which was covered in the tree's sap and almost immediately becomes an infected zombie. The company sends out Tyler to find out why production has stopped and is attacked by zombies. He is saved by Mac, the boss of the construction crew, along with worker Luke and one of the scientists, a weasely man named Carter (JR Bourne, Thirteen Ghosts, The Exorcism of Emily Rose). The band together and eventually rescue Rita and some of her environmentalist friends. The bridge they intended to take has been blocked by the company and the try to find another way out of the dense forest. The group fights off zombie hordes with whatever they can find, including branches and foresting equipment. Some of the group is killed, thanks in part to the cowardly actions of Carter. They manage to find another group of workers that have survived and even made a camp. Things are not as safe as they appear as the survivors in the camp have lost their minds. Will Tyler, Rita, and Mac be able to survive the camp, let alone the zombies?

These zombie walks have gone too far

It feels like every zombie movie nowadays is just an excuse to put zombies in a different location and throw “...of the Dead” in the title. Sure, that's what happens in this movie, but it's not entirely fair to say it's just a zombie rehash. There is a story here with a somewhat deeper meaning, although that specific meaning isn't exactly clear. I would think it's about how man shouldn't mess with nature, but then why are all the protestors essentially caricatures of what environmentalists really are? Granted, they didn't go overboard and make them all hairy dippy hippies, but they still make Rita a whiny anti-everythingalist? You'd think if the movie was pro-conservation, they would have made stronger character development in Rita and the rest of her group.

All that being said, the movie does have some very good action and plenty of blood and guts. There are some creative kills, including the usage of various mechanical equipment, but I actually would have liked to have seen more. You'd think there would have been a lot of different options to kill zombies when surrounded by so much equipment, but perhaps there were time and financial constraints. The acting in the movie ranges all the way from over-acting to under-acting, but nothing particularly painful to sit through. There is also some decent social commentary, but, like the ending, it comes off as rushed and incomplete. The zombies themselves have a weird yellowish look to them, almost as if they have jaundice. These are slow zombies, which I prefer, but they have a weird walk which looks like a cross between walking on a moon bounce and being electrocuted. Too much herky-jerky and not enough lurching. I can't really tell if they follow the usual zombie rules because I don't think I ever saw a head shot in the entire movie.

Happy Pesach, everyone!

Severed: Forest of the Dead is a decent zombie movie with some fun, bloody violence. There is enough action to keep the audience entertained, but the shaky camera is dizzying at times. It tries to have social commentary, which is appreciated, but it just doesn't quite make a full point. There's a wide range of acting ability, but nothing particularly good or bad. Severed has it's moments and is better than a lot of the current straight-to-video zombie movies that come out. You could do better, but you could do worse.


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