Severance  -
If a weekend of team building exercises in the woods sounds like your personal idea of torture, spare a thought for the poor pen pushers of Severance. As if the obligatory paintball and trust exercises weren't enough, there's a killer lurking outside their cabin--a killer holding a grudge against the unsuspecting employees of Palisade Defense...
Severance is one of the best British horror movies to come out of the last couple of years. It's smarter than it has any right to be; screenwriter James Moran neatly sidesteps the numerous clichés littering the genre, balancing eye-watering gore with almost surreal humour, while Creep helmer Chris Smith's assured direction sells even the daftest (and cruellest) moments.
Smith also draws great performances from a talented cast, including Dead Like Me's Laura Harris, Black Adder's Darling Tim McInnerny, and Danny Dyer of Mean Machine and The Football Factory.
Horror fans will lap this up; those lacking an iron stomach might watch some scenes from behind laced fingers, but will appreciate the fast-paced action and black humour nonetheless.--Sarah Dobbs
Customer reviews (av rating: 3.5):
Excellent stuff : Highly enjoyable - silly, gruesome, tense, a few jumps and a very funny decapitation. Not to mention a near four in a bed at the end. Great stuff, and a fantastic gag with a missile launcher as well. A good night in.
A Welcome Horror-Comedy : For viewers positively enchanted by Edgar Wright's "Shaun of the Dead", Christopher Smith's "Severance" won't match up to it, but stands as one of the best British horror-comedies released since that bordering-on-brilliant outing. Imperfect though it may be, this slash and laugh composition posesses more than enough gore needed to please the resident bloodhound cinema-goers, and boasts a respectable laugh count too. If the film takes a few missteps, and if the picture isn't as hilarious as it might have been, "Severance" is a worthwhile diversion from the more mainstream and less daring motion picture's of its ilk. In the comedy department it isn't reliant on slapstick, in the horror department it isn't totally reliable on viscera alone.
When their bus driver decides it would be best to leave them in the middle of the woods, the employees of English weapons company Palisade Defence's team-building weekend goes particularly awry. The group don't bargain that they'll come across a murderous psychopath as they arrive at a cabin, unsure if its their target destination. Soon enough, though, they realise that such confusion and unsureness is the least of their worries, as the aforementioned madman has set his sights on them as his next victims. Blood and, strangely, hilarity ensue at an infrequent rate.
The leading performers are uniformly strong, portraying each of their characters with the most adequate mix of humour and seriousness. Among them, Danny Dyer and Claudie Blakley are perhaps the biggest stand-outs. Dyer's lead performance as the somewhat dimwitted Steve is effortlessly funny and original. Meanwhile, Blakley does a lot with a little, evoking laughter and sympathy in the audience as the geeky and idealistic Jill. Laura Harris is good as group hottie Maggie, and Tim McInnerny is sensational as the affectionate and awkward Richard, who has a crush on Harris' Maggie.
"Severance" is a notch above most horror-comedies in its methods of elliciting both fear and laughter, but that doesn't exactly mean the switch between the two genres is always smooth. The movie's jokes don't always work to best effect, with the movie's earlier scenes failing to match up to the material that follows. As is, "Severance" begins to find its footing in its second-half, as the expected murders are surprisingly milked for comedic effect on several occasions, which subtracts the switching problem by tackling both audience demographics at once. Particularly, a decapitation scene coupled with an earlier dialogue exchange regarding the murder method gives the movie its most notable, but guilty laughing fit. Other than that, the movie comes with its fair share of successful visual gags and vocal gags.
Having last tackled 2004's poorly established "Creep", Christopher Smith improves upon that gimmicky film with "Severance". That a fair few scenes to be had in "Creep" wound up being unintentionally hilarious was perhaps part of the reason behind Smith's next project being a more comical one. Smith does a great job directing this little piece, but does indeed pail in comparison with the more talented and incisive stylings of the earlier mentioned Edgar Wright. Supporting him is a screenplay by himself and James Moran that is far from perfect. Smith and Moran's script steals gags from the likes of "Scream", "Scary Movie" and others that marrs what is an otherwise entertaining experience by rendering it derivative.
All criticisms cast aside, "Severance" is a worthwhile but utterly meaningless thematic venture likely to entertain the majority of those who choose to see it. If it isn't exactly note-perfect in its execution, and if it borrows from other sources, the collective effort is still good enough to warrant viewing. Sure, anyone who labels it brilliant is wholly misguided, but the viewer who damns it as a bad movie is equally misguided. "Severance" is underwhelming but likable, a film capable of making violent mutilation and mass murder as funny as it does has to be doing something right.
So bad it's not even funny : A bunch of work colleagues go for a team building weekend. Of course they get lost on the way and find themselves stranded in woodland. There is so little time and script spent on developing any understanding of the characters involved that when they start getting bumped off one doesn't really care. There is only a passing mention of why some madmen are wandering the woods trying to kill them, so there's really no plot to speak of. Wooden acting, minimal plot, little attention to building up characters and then most of them get killed. If you like the sound of this - go for it.
The concept has been done before and done much better. If you want a great film of the same genre involving friends caught up in a horrific situation with some real thrills and scares along the way watch 'The Descent' instead!
Brilliant! : This is brilliant! One of my favourite films is Shaun of the Dead and this is definitely a similar beast. Severance is quite gory in places but also very funny and well worth a look. I thought the cast were excellent and the film is good fun from start to finish!
Jet black humour! : I avoided this film on its initial release, because it was 'highly recommended' to me by a friend and his recommendations are usually an indication of how terrible a film is. However, for once, he was right.
"Severance" puts its ensemble cast in the middle of a team building exercise in an unspecified East European countryside and then terrorizes them with a group of p****d off ex soldiers.
There are several elements to the film which make the film work. Firstly the dynanmic between the cast members is tremendous, giving the impression that this is a team of people that has been working together for a long time. Each of the characters are well written and well rounded, when something inevitable gruesome happens to them, we actually do care. Secondly, the blend of horror and humour is spot on. Its a hard balance to get, but the filmmakers have succeeded in getting the right amount of shocks and the right amount of laughs. I like my humour dark, and this film has a jet black streak running right through it, we find ourselves laughing at things that perhaps we shouldn't be. Thoroughly reccomended.
Buy "Severance " now!