Severed Ways: The Viking’s Answer to Napoleon Dynamite

Severed Ways Poster

Severed Ways Poster

Today, I’ll be reviewing Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of North America, a movie whose long and drawn-out title should say it all, but in case it doesn’t, I’ll explain a little: it is a movie that follows the struggle of two battle-weary Norse warriors to rejoin the rest of the exploring party following a massive battle against Native Americans.

My first impression after reading the back of the packaging was one of anticipation. After all, a movie about Viking warriors and their epic battles to a soundtrack consisting of songs by Burzum, Dimmu Borgir, and Judas Priest certainly couldn’t go wrong. The bottom line: I was expecting a good 109 minutes of brazen sword fights and axe throwing that would make Thor run away scared, leaving his hammer behind.

So with that in mind, I hit ‘Start’ on my DVD player. After a few minutes of prologue detailing how the conflict between the Norsemen and Native Americans (referred to as “Skraelings” in the film) began, the aftermath of said battle is shown. Dead warriors from both sides lay everywhere, some with three or more arrows jutting from their corpses. So far, I feel like my expectations are justified.

Severed WaysFinally, the two surviving Norsemen, the blond Orn and the dark-haired Volnard, awaken and dust themselves off. After a few minutes of subtitled Norse dialogue, the two warriors decide to begin on their quest to rejoin Leif Ericsson’s expedition up North. Right as they enter the woods, the movie immediately begins to go downhill.

From this point forward, the movie is as committed to realism as it can possibly be, without actually consisting of days and weeks of footage. And by this, I mean the remaining 99 minutes are nothing but montages of lean-to building and walking. There’s a scene where they attack two monks, killing one of them and burning down their cabin to the tune of a shrieking black metal song, but that’s about as exciting as it gets, and even that isn’t saying much, as the entire scenario lasts maybe one minute.

The monk that Volnard spared serves to attempt to give some depth to his character, as it fits with a flashback seen earlier in which Volnard kills a Christian priest that converted Volnard’s sister, who promptly committed suicide by cliff diving. Both of these events sets up a series of weak scenes in which Volnard tentatively befriends the monk, and apparently converts to Christianity. I’m guessing this is supposed to induce the audience into caring a little bit about the character, but I honestly couldn’t have cared less.

severedways2

There’s also a bizarre scene in which Orn is lured, kidnapped, and raped by a Native American woman. He is then let go, while the male ‘Skraeling’ hunts after Volnard. After yet MORE montages of walking, Orn sees the monk that Volnard spared and kills him, provoking Volnard to attack Orn in vengeance. Immediately after, the Native American hunter hits Volnard with an arrow, killing him. Orn then sets up a funeral pyre for Volnard. The epilogue shows Orn dying of hypothermia in the snow.

Basically, this film was terrible. It had a lot of the same shaky hand-cam action that irritated us all in Blair Witch and Cloverfield, but with even grainier film quality. The scenery was beautiful, but that didn’t make up for the fact that barely anything ever happened within it. Like I said, the film was a total of 109 minutes of just walking. The Norse language sounded like it was done with a computer, and looked like it was haphazardly lip-synced by the actors. I understand the committal to realism here, but it really detracted from the already low quality of the film in this case. The subtitles were unimaginably cheesy, attempting to use somewhat modern slang like “This fish is killer.”

The action scenes were boring and short-lived, and over before maybe two slashes of the warrior’s sword. They seemed just thrown in at intervals, almost coming across as an attempt to keep the audience from falling asleep due to the many montages of walking.

Severed Ways 3

The film itself was split into various chapters using large, cheaply-made red lettering that attempted to give some sense of plot beyond what was obvious. Whoever was in charge of that could have saved considerable time, effort, and resources just by changing the movie’s title to Severed Ways: A Film About Walking in the Woods. Severed Ways is boring, dull, and truly shows why more of a good thing, realism in this case, does not necessarily make the whole product better.

After actually watching this incredibly dull excuse for a Viking film, here’s the real bottom line: This is a movie that would make Thor ashamed to be one of the Norse Gods.


Severed Ways – The Trailer

Soundtrack:

  1. Popul Vuh-“Kha-White Structures”
  2. Burzum-“Tomhet”
  3. Dimmu Borgir-“Det Nye Riket”
  4. Dimmu Borgir-“In Death’s Embrace”
  5. Dimmu Borgir-Alt lys er svunnet hen”
  6. Dimmu Borgir-“Stormblast”
  7. Old Man’s Child-“…Og Jeg Iakttok Dødsrikets Inntog”
  8. Dimmu Borgir-“Entrance”
  9. Brian Eno-“From The Same Hill”
  10. Dimmu Borgir-“Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde”
  11. Burzum-“Ansuzgardaraiwô”
  12. Burzum-“Hermoðr á helferð”
  13. Morbid Angel-“Desolate Ways”
  14. Popul Vuh-“Morgengruß”
  15. Popul Vuh-“The Christ Is Near”
  16. Popul Vuh-“Kleiner Krieger”
  17. Burzum-“Frijôs goldene Tränen”
  18. Judas Priest-“Caviar and Meths”
  19. Melissa Auf Der Maur-(Forgot the song)
  20. Queens of the Stone Age-“Spiders and Vinegaroons”

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  • http://www.zmemusic.com Tibi Puiu

    The subtitles were unimaginably cheesy, attempting to use somewhat modern slang like “This fish is killer.”

    Seeing how the movie tries to be so realistic, I think this was a very smooth touch. I mean, it’s well recorded in the Norse Sagas that Vikings were very loose and open to humorous remarks all the time.

    I can see them now. “Dude, Lars, quit fucking around with those Christians. We’ve got villages to pillage, maaaaan. It’s like the time you got wasted that night in (New) Amsterdam. Tripping, broooootha!”

    Vikings are such party animals!

  • http://www.zmemusic.com Taylor Walsh

    Oh I don’t doubt that at all haha, but I still felt like it was a little too heavy handed. I don’t know, it just sounded out of place. I get that it was a translation, but it seemed too literal.

    Nonetheless, this film was garbage.

  • Monica

    The movie box was totally false advertising. It proclaimed a “throbbing, black metal soundtrack” and “gritty realism” alongside a violent-looking and blood-stained Viking encrusted with winter snow. I thought it was gonna be TOTALLY metal, and that “gritty realism” meant lots of convincing fake blood and rubber limbs. At the very least, I expected some ass-kicking. Boy, was I wrong.

    There wasn’t any soundtrack most of the time, and most (pretty much all) of the time it sounded closer to Pure Moods or Brokeback Mountain than Metalocalypse. And I guess when they said “gritty realism”, they meant 10 minutes of chopping wood in silence and taking a live dump in the wild.

  • http://www.zmemusic.com Taylor Walsh

    Yeah, Monica, that’s pretty much it. It was a totally crappy movie.

  • Anon

    They were acctually speaking swedish, and the english subtitles were way off from what they were really saying.

  • shai-tan

    I can’t believe you people could call this garbage.. and maybe you really need to expand your mental perimeters to better encompass metal in all it’s facets.

    These guys did not have a real budget, but they did manage to capitalize on what they had, and they did it in the best way I could imagine.

    Now, we have melissa auf der maur stepping up to the plate and tossing cash at these guys, so now they have finished a 30 min short together called “out of our minds”. Obviously, she saw the same talent in them that I did.

    They did deliver on metal, grittiness, and realism… but to a person who has vague knowledge of those three in their subtlety… well, its pointless to even try with you.

    As for its reviews, they were terrible and it’s expected.. but my review and mellissa’s.. well, we think otherwise and would give high numbers. Whose opinion would you rather have, that opinion of a couch potato or that of successful entrepreneurs?

  • Bailey

    This movie is the shit, my fiance and i watched together and we love vikings and metal!! Would have been nice if they would have put alittle bit of amon amarth in this, but over all great movie!!

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