Friday, June 08, 2007


Title: Severance (2006)
Dir: Christopher Smith
Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Once every year - if we're lucky - we get one fantastic horror-comedy. In the past year, there have actually been two or three really original ones, including Christopher Smith's Severance.

Like its more popular cousin Shaun of the Dead, this film throws uptight British people in the midst of an American-style horror situation. In Severance, a group of British salespeople from Palisade Defense are sent on a "team-building weekend" in the mountains of Hungary. But like in any good backwoods horror movie, our protagonists are not alone. Refreshingly, it's not mutants this time, but rather some revenge-hungry military crazies.

Some people have called this film "The Office meets Deliverence." I guess I can see the latter (woods + crazies), but the only really similarity with The Office is the characters. We do have a dopey boss who tries too hard (Tim McInnerny) and his nerdy, ass-kissing lapdog (Andy Nyman). But the humor is different, and much darker, of course. The movie also has a bit of Hostel in it (mainly the scary Eastern European atmosphere, and only tiny bit of torture).

I really liked the actors, especially leads Danny Dyer and Laura Harris (a far cry from the last time I saw her, as the southern-belle-turned-monster-alien in The Faculty). And Nyman is also great, though I felt really bad for his character. You'll see.

The plot is a bit far-fetched, but it does not matter so much as the black humor and the gore. The movie does deliver some pretty sweet blood + guts. I really look forward to seeing Christopher Smith's next effort. Severance should satisfy most horror fans, but it's a must-see for horror-comedy geeks (and fans of British humor) like myself.