Imagine there being an awesome and authentic Viking epic wherein two Norsemen are stranded in what will someday become America. Now imagine that such a film would be lush with beautiful scenery shot in gorgeous CinemaScope. Imagine further that the movie would contain a rich 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track where the entire cast speaks the language of the time and the music is nothing but modern heavy metal.
Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Well, try to contain your excitement — for I have come to tell you that you’re just going to have to keep on imagining for such a film since Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery Of America isn’t it.
In fact, it’s a complete flat-out a waste of time. While some of the majestic New England and Canadian scenery featured in this film is indeed beautiful, the fact that the whole movie was filmed with a video camera and then matted really takes a lot of the effect away. Actually, it takes all of the effect away. Furthermore, the lucky schmuck that drew the straw to photograph this film must have been smoking crack in order to combat his Parkinson’s Disease. The dialogue was originally recorded in modern English — with modern lingo and expletives included — by the (ahem) “actors” who play in the film and then dubbed over (badly) in Old Norse with the modern lingo and expletives intact. The riveting heavy metal soundtrack only gets cued up every once and a while, only to be switched off shortly thereafter.
At times, I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be a serious adventure (oh, by the way, there is no action in this film) or a very subtle comedy made by a couple of New England metal-heads that had a thing for Vikings. For the most part, it’s all played straight — and then there’s an off-center moment wherein the titles announce Chapter II (oh, it’s split into chapters like a book, too — giving an even bigger YouTube feel) and one of the characters is seen standing atop of their makeshift shelter, banging his head to the offscreen music.
As the Vikings would say: “Dude! What the fuck?”
Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery Of America makes its way to DVD (unfortunately) from Magnet Releasing and Magnolia Home Entertainment, who probably should have accidentally dropped this one behind the filing cabinet. Nevertheless, it’s here, in all of its homemade camcorder glory. The image has been matted to a 2.35:1 ratio, so there is considerable information loss at the top and bottom of the screen — but it’s of no consequence seeing as how the whole picture is shaky anyway.
The Norse 5.1 soundtrack fares better with its music more than anything, while the awkwardly dubbed dialogue comes through sounding as canned as can be. Burned-in English subtitles translate the ridiculous dialogue, adding to the nausea. Finally, in what I can only assume to be an attempt to disorient and disillusion our Latin American brothers and sisters, Spanish subtitles are included.
Why is it the really, really dumb films always seem to have more special features than the worthwhile ones? Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery Of America contains a bit of bonus material, but frankly, the movie is so fucking bad that I really don’t even care. But, for the record, there are some deleted scenes, featurettes, and trailers. Not much, really, but still enough to warrant such additions as an act of war against thinking people everywhere.
Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery Of America could have been a lot more. It should be more. Hopefully, someday, somebody with barely an inkling of talent will film their own version — and it will be ten times better than this. But, in the meantime, you can thrill to a couple of unkempt Renaissance Fair rejects chopping down trees (um, did the Department of Forestry know about this?), killing chickens with their bare hands, and even defecating on camera.
Does a bear shit in the woods? Who knows — but Barry sure as hell does!