Largely lacking in dialogue (if not unintentional hilarity), this intensely personal project is proof positive that Bill and Ted grew up to become filmmakers. Director-writer Tony Stone dons helmet as he and Fiore Tedesco, dressed as Viking warriors, stomp through the bloody mess of 11th-century coastal Newfoundland. A throbbing black-metal soundtrack pushes the movie toward music-video grandiosity; anachronistic subtitles send it over the cliff. “We’re toast if we stay here,” says one to the other, and even though toast was hardly conceivable to a Norseman, things are definitely getting baked.
The audience for Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America will not be serious historians or students. It will not necessarily mind the jittery digital camerawork further exploding the illusion. And as to the provocative question of who actually “found” America first—well, that’s just a bonus, man. Essentially, Severed Ways looks to attract cultists: people who dig going into the woods behind their suburban homes and playing dress-up. For this last reason (the beginning of many a career, including Steven Spielberg’s), it’s unfair to be superhard on Stone. Let’s just say he’s got some continents to discover.