Severance (2006)
By: Liam Ronan on September 9, 2006  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Director: Christopher Smith
Starring: Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman
Screenplay: James Moran, Christopher Smith
Country: UK
Duration: 96 minutes
By director Chris Smith's own admission, his 2004 old-school horror debut Creep was an ode to the guilty pleasures of the video nasty era. His latest flick ups the ante by blending some seriously messy gore with genuinely funny ultra-black comedy.

Severance pits a global munitions company sales team against a foe that kills them using their own products. The team are on a reluctant training exercise deep in the Hungarian forests when they are abandoned by a disgruntled bus driver and forced to spend the night in a former insane asylum.

Horror movie fans will know that this is never a good sign. More ill portents appear; a pie they think has been left as a welcoming gesture is found to contain human teeth, the cellar is crammed with files about Serbian war criminals, and a mask-wearing prowler is spotted peering through the windows.

While two of the group head off to find help, their prat of a manager insists that the other staff members get on with the team building exercise. He promptly organises a game of paintball, and soon the hills are alive with the sound of screaming as the team encounter various death traps littering the woods.

Then the fun really begins.

Anyone who has ever worked in an office will enjoy the subtle-as-a-brick characterisations: an accident-prone health and safety officer, a manager who quotes business jargon in the face of death, a right-on designer who is developing humane weapons that don't actually kill, a stoner junior officer who refuses to accept responsibility even when working for a company that trades in death...

Severance begins like a standard slasher movie, veers into Office Space territory and swings back for a grim final reel of gore soaked brutality, all of which is heavily laced with dark humour that wouldn't be out of place in some of Peter Jackson's early films - like the character who loses a leg in a bear trap and is given ecstasy in lieu of morphine, or the poor sod who hobbles around with an eight inch hunting knife wedged in his arse before falling flat on his backside. Owch! And speaking of Jackson, Severance also boasts one of the best gags involving a rocket launcher since Bad Taste's sheep-destroying mishap.

On the minus side, the origin of the foe that they face is never really made clear, something that I found mildly irritating - maybe Smith is saving this for the sequel?

Featuring familiar faces from the likes of 24 and Blackadder, Severance is great fun and further evidence that the UK is enjoying a fresh boom in decent horror fare.
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