×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Severed

"Severed" ingeniously sets up a confrontation between eco-activists and loggers that turns decidedly ghoulish -- and incisively political. Canuck helmer Carl Bessai applies a serious veneer that's a carryover from his personal work to a full-on genre display that should greatly please the hardcore crowd and arthouse denizens.

With:
With: Paul Campbell, Sarah Lind, JR Bourne, Julian Christopher, Michael Tiegen.

Pushing the zombie movie in a direction even George Romero would envy, “Severed” ingeniously sets up a confrontation between eco-activists and loggers that turns decidedly ghoulish — and incisively political. Drawing from the art-horror pics of Larry Fessenden, Canuck helmer Carl Bessai applies a serious veneer that’s a carryover from his personal work (“Emile”) to a full-on genre display that should greatly please the hardcore crowd and arthouse denizens. Pic has entered the marketplace very much under the radar, but could be a nifty summer or fall item for an attentive distrib.

Protags and antags couldn’t be more fundamental: In one corner, a burly crew of loggers thins out a grove of old-growth trees in what looks like a northern patch of British Columbia; in the other corner, “Earth First!”-style activists, block roads and tie themselves to trees. Protag Rita (Sarah Lind) is one of the protestors, while antag Tyler (Paul Campbell) is the son of the logging company owner.

After company scientist Carter (JR Bourne) discovers strange sap emissions that look disturbingly like blood, the sap splashes all over one logger, who turns green and gets zombie-fied in short order.

Soon, the sap infects more workers, bringing the logging operation to a screeching halt and also threatening the activists.

Bessai stages extremely tense scenes with a consistently smart attitude, as when frenzied protestors are undone by their own tactics–tied to trees while roughneck ghouls approach. With devious irony, the loggers and activists who were enemies in pre-zombie times are now allies, either as zombie brethren or as humans trying to get away.

“Severed” contains several salvos directed at contempo cinema’s number one bad guy — the corporation — that are armed with even more disturbing implications than those in Romero’s magnificent zombie thriller last year, “Land of the Dead.” The ecology message has special impact because of how deftly it is woven into the narrative.

Third act plays out like a Joseph Conrad tale with a drive-in sensibility, replete with a string of moral quandaries rooted in what it is to be human.

Bessai’s actors freak out, get muddy and bloody and bring out quirky traits of the characters while the helmer and his production team, especially lenser James Liston and sound man Scott Aitken, turn the British Columbia forest into a deeply scary place that’s primordial in impact.

Severed

Canada

Production: A Chum Television and Brightlight Pictures presentation in association with Submission Films. (International sales: Voltage Pictures, Los Angeles.) Produced by Andrew Boutilier, Cynthia Chapman. Executive producers, Shawn Williamson, Steven Hegyes . Directed by Carl Bessai. Screenplay, Bessai, Travis McDonald.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor, Super 16mm), James Liston; editor, Julian Clarke; music, Clinton Shorter; production designer, tink ; sound (Dolby Digital), Scott Aitken; supervising sound editor, Steve Smith; special effects supervisor, Tom Blacklock; visual effects, Technicolor Creative Services; visual effects makeup, Kyla Rose Tremblay; assistant director, Michelle Morris; casting, Maureen Webb. Reviewed at Method Fest, Los Angeles, April 2, 2006. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: With: Paul Campbell, Sarah Lind, JR Bourne, Julian Christopher, Michael Tiegen.

More Film

  • Kalank

    Film Review: ‘Kalank’

    Events leading to the 1947 Partition of India serve as the forebodingly serious backdrop for the exhaustingly overextended razzmatazz of “Kalank,” writer-director Abhishek Varman’s lavish but ponderous Bollywood extravaganza, which opened in the U.S. on more than 300 screens the same day as its Indian release. Despite the preponderance of sets and costumes spectacular enough [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    WGA: 92 Percent of Writers Who Signed Statement of Support Have Fired Agents

    The Writers Guild of America estimated that over 92 percent of their members who support a new code of conduct for talent agencies have fired those representatives. Letters announcing formal termination will be delivered on Monday, the guild said in a late-hitting memo on Thursday, as most agencies will be closed tomorrow in observance of [...]

  • Jimmie Fails Signs With CAA

    'Last Black Man in San Francisco' Star Jimmie Fails Signs With CAA

    Jimmie Fails, co-writer and star of “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” has signed with CAA for representation. The drama, inspired by Fails’ own life, had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. In his review for Variety, chief film critic Peter Debruge described the film as “a gorgeous and touchingly idealistic [...]

  • Stuck

    Film Review: 'Stuck'

    A stalled New York City subway carriage serves as a toe-tapping musical Petri dish for six socioeconomically diverse souls in the unique stage-to-screen musical adaptation “Stuck.” Sharing a stylistic template with its 2016 left-coast cousin “La La Land” (which it predated Off-Broadway by a good four years), the film’s 2017 copyright suggests a missed opportunity [...]

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Why Airbnb Produced Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South,' Its First-Ever Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    The latest player to hit the film-festival circuit may be a bit unexpected: Airbnb, the travel-accommodations booking marketplace, developed, financed and produced documentary film “Gay Chorus Deep South,” set to premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 29. It’s the company’s very first feature film. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues, “Gay Chorus Deep [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content