Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… Matt Green’s Severed.
Severed is rather straightforward in the plot department. We follow Blake as he attempts to solve a series of grisly ritualistic beheadings. With the aid of Evangelina, he begins to get sucked into the killer’s world of fear, death, and voodoo magic.
This is the kind of movie that I actually feel bad about picking on. They were clearly trying to make something good. They were swinging for the fences, but they really hit a foul ball on this one. This movie is clearly very low budget, but it feels unfinished. Almost immediately my thought was that this looks as though it were a high school student’s final project for an Intro to Film class. The camerawork is sloppy, with things often drifting in and out of frame, the handheld camera just can’t keep up with what’s going on. In scenes where the camera is steady, things are still poorly framed and everything feels awkward. The lighting is almost nonexistent. When it’s bright, it’s really bright. When it’s dark, it’s completely incomprehensible. On top of that, the editing is choppy, slow, and absolutely destroys the pacing of every scene.
The sound design only adds to the frustration here and honestly, this is a bit of a pet peeve for me. Most, if not all, of the dialogue sounds as though it was recorded on-set, which is rather jarring when paired up with all of the obvious stock sound bites that they likely pulled out of a public domain library. The gun shots, clangs for when things drop to the pavement, doors opening or closing, and various bumps and bangs all sound completely out of place. They sit right on top of the mix and are completely removed from the ambient noise and dialogue. There wasn’t even an attempt to mix and master this or make it all blend and sound natural. The volume jumps all over the place. Hell, there are times when the audio flat-out clips! I’m sorry, but that is completely unacceptable. That is a serious issue. If it’s clipping, somebody didn’t do their job and it needs to be dubbed over.
Fortunately, the script isn’t any good, so there’s not a whole lot to ruin. The idea of the voodoo killer is kind of neat, but inconsistent and when they dive fully into it for the ending it feels like a completely separate movie. They make mention of the killer using actual magic, but there are no real suggestions of it until we are dryly told that it’s what is happening. In fact, that’s what most of this film is. It’s characters dryly telling each other what’s happening instead of actually getting into any of the action. They were clearly trying to go for a Silence of the Lambs kind of thing, focusing on the mystery and the police trying to solve the case as opposed to victims being terrorized by the killer, but it doesn’t work out. It’s just hard to actually sit through.The acting is awful and inconsistent. Nobody seems to have any kind of emotion and just slogs through the whole film with a blank look on their face. The dialogue is atrocious and this only serves to make the performances even worse. Given that this is what most of the movie consists of, it makes things difficult to watch. The only one who actually does seem to be doing much of anything is the killer, but that’s because most of his early dialogue consists of animal noises as he jumps around like a werewolf or something. He has this animalistic quality which is sadly eventually dropped completely, but it was at least something like an emotion.
Look…there’s really not much to say about Severed. This is a CSI episode masquerading as a slasher movie, and it’s terribly made. It’s poorly directed, shot like a home movie, edited without any thought for pacing or consistency, and the sound mix actively offends me. This is amateur in every sense of the word and what’s worse is that it’s boring as all sin. Do not watch this movie unless you have insomnia and are looking for something to put you to sleep.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.