Severed: Forest of the Dead (2005)

Severed: Forest of the Dead (2005)

From the producers of White Noise and House of the Dead

A forestry company’s hormone experimentation goes horribly wrong as their genetically-enhanced tree sap inadvertently turns people into ravenous zombies. A group of environmentalists and lumberjacks in the forest must band together to try and get out of there alive.

 

The idea of a film involving ‘zombie lumberjacks’ isn’t exactly one which reached out and grab me by the throat so it’s no surprise to see that Severed: Forest of the Dead comes off as having lots of potential but fails to deliver it’s novelty idea with any real gusto. Maybe it’s because the overworked zombie genre has saturated the market so badly recently that it means that a lot of modern zombie films just don’t cut the mustard anymore. Or maybe it’s just evident that Carl Bessai loves the George A. Romero zombie films so much that he sees necessary to rip them off as much as he can. In doing so, he has forgotten to make his own zombie film and just rehashes plenty of tired clichés.

The film’s plot is just the usual MacGuffin to get the zombies unleashed. I’m honestly immune to criticisms of the ‘genetically-enhanced something’ plot now that I’ve seen it done for the thousandth time. As long as the resulting carnage is decent enough, I can forgive dodgy plots. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of carnage. In fact there isn’t a lot of plot. The characters just shuffle from one location to the next, always ending in the same conclusion – one character gets separated from the group and then swarmed by zombies before being killed. I lost track of the amount of times the group would run into a bunch of zombies, only for them to get overpowered and try to fight them off. It may work once or twice but not every ten minutes.

This is one of the underlying problems with Severed: Forest of the Dead – the script. It unleashes the zombies pretty early but then doesn’t know what it wants to do with everyone. Seeing people running around in the woods being chased by zombies for ninety-three minutes isn’t what I want to see. There is plenty of zombie action throughout the film but it rarely pauses to let you catch your breath. In trying to cram so much in, Bessai overloads the film too early and then has to keep regurgitating the same cycle of chase, stop, chase, stop over and over again. The attack scenes don’t work nearly half as good as they should do given the shaky camerawork on display. You want to see what is going on but the frustrating camera shifts focus too many times and doesn’t give you clear shots of what is going on. There’s not a major amount of gore on display either. Sure, a lot of characters get covered in blood spurts but there are no throat-ripping, neck-biting, limb-tearing goodies that other zombie flicks have in good supply. I guess the two things go hand-in-hand. Edit the attack scenes really quickly and no one will notice that there isn’t any blood on display.

It’s not all bad news though. The characters are pretty likeable, even if they do stupid things. You’ve got the hero who works for the company and the heroine who is an environmentalist. It’s not a shocker to see them hook up which clearly goes against her morals – how serious is she about saving the planet if she beds the boss’ son? There’s also Mac, one of the lumberjacks who is the token ‘elder’ character to look after all of the youngsters. There’s also the token weasel character that would rather save his skin than help out. It puzzles me to see him open the gates and let the zombies into the camp so that he can escape. Moments later, the other characters clearly know who did it but the survivors then risk their lives and try and help him from impending zombie doom. “Let him die” I was screaming.

Speaking of the weird script, there’s a bizarre twist in the film where the original characters meet up with a bunch of lumberjacks holed up in the forest in some Romero-esque vision of society breaking down. The lumberjacks play silly games like locking one of their own in a cage and seeing how many zombies they can kill. Given that the epidemic hasn’t taken the world over and for all they know the zombies are a local problem, these lumberjacks sure as hell break down into primitive savages with ease.

 

Severed: Forest of the Dead has a few moments of potential and there is a lot of zombie action but it’s just bogged down too much with a stupid script that seems more worried about it’s action quota than it is having a decent, common sense storyline with characters that behave normally.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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