Thursday, May 4, 2023

Secrets, Secrets, Who's got The Secrets?: Severed Lives (2006)

Severed Lives (2006)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Mary Alice Watkins, Alexis Celeste Elliott, Cathy Baron

For their senior thesis project, a small group of film students decided to shoot a horror documentary on their campus' twenty year-old urban legend in which it's said that a killer once went on a co-ed killing spree back in the day. As these girls gather around one night to think of a script that isn't going to devolve into cheesy horror territories, they would soon find out that they're in a real life slasher flick as a masked maniac starts stalking and picking them off dead one by one, seemingly in order to keep this film from ever being made.

As far as slasher cheapies go, Severed Lives (2006) suffers from expected pitfalls commonly found in a do-it-yourself production, mainly an awful sound design, dipping picture quality and price tag-constrained special effects. But in its defense, there is a little more heart put into this film as writer, director and producer Jake Helgren (who would later work on tons of Lifetime Channel and Hallmark movies) fully understands the core enjoyment of a simple slasher flick and done their best to implement it while tightening the purse strings. 

Clocking just less than fifty minutes, the direction is fluidly paced and focused, there's a couple of inspired camera work and editing, as well as a workable script done away with possibly some of the more agreeable acting done in a micro budget slasher film. The bodycounter elements are also a decent bunch once you get past the budgetary restraints; most of the onscreen murders are coupled with fair cat-and-mouse sequences and punctuated with a good helping of blood and chunks. The killer's guise is striking with their red faced mask and long black stringy hair creeping up on their victims like ghoulish hag. Their motive for the killings to teeter between maniacally clever and cheesy dramatic, but it does work with the twist reveal Severed lives (2006) went with, tying up everything that's been set into motion quite nicely in the end.

A fun enough slasher hokum if you're not asking for much, Severed Lives (2006) delivers all the manic massacre goods on a very tightened belt and I find that admirable enough to at least earn a watch.

1 female attacked inside a car, killed offscreen
1 female garroted with a belt
1 male attacked, later found stabbed to death
1 female knifed in the neck
1 female impaled with a javelin
1 female shot on the head
1 female knifed in the gut
Total: 7

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