I had to round up on "Severance" simply because it has one of the funniest scenes in a horror movie that I have ever seen. I told my wife about it (she would scarcely condescend to watch a movie like this), and she even laughed out loud at my simple description of the scene in question. "Severance" is one of those movies where you want to work out the math to figure out the bits and pieces you see director Christopher Smith and his screenwriting partner James Moran mixing up in this 2006 film. Basically take the gang from "The Office," have them sell weapons instead of paper like in "Lord of War," put them deep in the woods like whatever your favorite deep in the woods horror film might be (e.g., "The Blair Witch Project" if you are under thirty, but "Deliverance" is you are over thirty), and do "The Most Dangerous Game" bit. I know it seems like "Shaun of the Dead" would be an obvious comparison for a movie like this that wants to blend horror and comedy, but "Severance" is going to suffer in that sort of comparison. However, compare it to your standard horror film (which more often than not is direct to video these days), and this one looks pretty good.
So go along with the idea that sending the sales team for a munitions maker to a lodge somewhere in Eastern Europe for team building exercises. The team leader (Tim McInnerny) is not a leader, but then he does not really have a team. Laura Harris from "Dead Like Me" is the most recognizable face and clearly not a dumb blonde, so you expect here to be around at the end. The rest of them are you regular smorgasbord of future dead meat, from the pothead (Danny Dyer) and the brown-noser (Andy Nyman) to the minority person (Babou Ceesay) and the brunette with the glasses (Claudie Blakley). The setting is Hungary and after the war in Bosnia and torture-porn films like "Hostel" there is a real sense that Eastern Europe is basically a giant death trap (but a cheap place to make movies). Where once there were Nazis and then psychotic Vietnam Vets, now there are thugs from Eastern Europe as the villains du jour. At least this time around randomness is not a part of the equation, although that particular plotline is raised late and not exploit for anything remotely like what it would be worth.
The slightly askew tone of the film is set early on when the standard scene of two buxom blondes running screaming through a forest is juxtaposed with classical music well suited to a ballet, and continues right through the end credits, where we get a different version of the same song that gets played at the end of "Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." It was nice for once to see people with college degrees being killed off one by one after all those countless dead teenager movies that have always made up most of the horror genre. Their occupation also comes into play in a couple of key ways, not only because of the idea that such merchants of death deserve to die horrible deaths, but also because these people know about weapons (now they just have to survive long enough to get their hands on some and use them). "Severance" is not always successful in trying to have it both way and even if the sick humor is makes for the films most memorable moments there are a few chilling bits as well (it helps that Harris plays it from start to finish like she is in a horror film). This was the most entertaining horror film I have seen in some time, which may not mean much given the dreck I have watched this past summer, but from my vantage point looks like the top of the mole hill.
on July 1, 2012
A quote on the front cover from Dennis Dermody of Paper Magazine
says, " 'The Office' meets 'The Hills Have Eyes'... It's good,
gory fun..." . Well, they do all work in an office, but we never
see them in one. As far as it maybe having the humour of "The
Office", i can't tell you because i hate that F***ING show. Can't
stand how they talk to the camera. Never seen a whole show and
The only connection to "The Hills Have Eyes" i can see is the
fact that they kill outdoors.(No inbread, disfigured family here.)
It does have it's funny moments, but not much more than any other
horror movie with a comic relief and someone who does stupid things
they think is a good thing.
Having said all this, it is a fun horror movie, and you should
enjoy it somewhat if your a horror fan.
on October 7, 2007
Great slasher comedy from Britain. Should not be compared to "Shaun of the Dead" since the two don't have much in common aside from both being horror comedies. It's the story of a group of seven employees of a large arms manufacturing corporation who go to the wilds of Bulgaria for a team-building exercise. They are soon stalked by a group of underground guerillas. Much gore, mayhem and laughs ensue. Highly recommended.
Better-than-average thriller which stirs enough black humor into the mix to prevent you from taking it seriously. In "Severance," a group of defense workers goes off on a corporate retreat ("team building") and are confronted by a menace. But what is facing them is not just some unseen killer, no, it's the terror of an unforgiving public who's been there, done that. They don't just have to win over the attacker -- they have to win over the audience as well. Or should I say that's the challenge of writer-director Christopher Smith, and he succeeds with ease.
Several gruesome moments seem like bait for gore-mongers, since the film would work perfectly well without them, but are well-done and there is enough character development at the front end of the movie to make you care when the blood starts to flow. I thought the characters were consistent enough (and surprising enough) to behave like real human beings, instead of turning into horror movie cliches. There's Danny Dyer's Steve who is still able to provide comic relief in a film that's already quite satirical. The goal of this trip is a little R&R, but Steve misread it as sex and drugs and R&R. He is a standout here. A fierce American female played by Laura Harris who shines as Maggie who maintains her tough exterior without turning into Laura Croft. Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman, Babou Ceesay, and Tim McInnerny all turn in perfectly lighthearted performances while remaining frighteningly real. The exploitation of horror movie clichés by turning some of them inside out also generates a good portion of the humor. There are also enough surprises to keep you intrigued - one stabbing looks so painful it'll make you think twice before kicking anyone in the butt. "Severance" looks like a big budget film but with Indie sensibility.
Another thing that I found interesting on this disc were some of the special features. The one special feature about all of the bad effects was actually very amusing especially when the one effects "master" admitted that he had no desire to work in film but got into the business when he saw how much it paid. Funny! So while "Severance" is a good movie for a Friday evening it doesn't garner repeated viewings in the future. While not as outrageous as Shaun of the Dead, this film works and is a must-see for enthusiast's of black humor.