Sunday, October 25, 2009

Horror Movie Review: Severance


Starring: Toby Stephens, Laurie Harris, Danny Dyer, Tim McInnerny, Claudie Blakely, Andy Nyman, and Babou Ceesay

Director: Christopher Smith

Writers: James Moran and Christopher Smith

Release Date: May 19, 2006

Awards: Best Screenplay International Fantasy Film Award at the 2007 Fantasporto, the Audience Award at the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival, and at the 2006 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival both the film and director Christopher Smith won Jury's Choice Awards.

Since we've been telling scary stories, people have been getting lost in forests, woods, and jungles. Something about not seeing the gorefest for the trees, or something. But whatever the reason, the British return us to those dark, lost woods with Severance. This time, though, we go with a grin on our face.

A team from Palisade Defense, an international weapons company, is taken to a lodge in Eastern Europe for a team building weekend. But when the bus encounters a fallen tree, the bus driver refuses to take a detour and insists on returning. The group lead by Richard (Tim McInnerny) disembarks the bus and begins trudging the road toward, the think, the lodge.

What they find is a run-down lodge without the amenities they were expecting. That evening over a meat pie, the gang shares stories they've heard of a nearby abandoned Palisade building either used as a psychiatric hospital, a factory taken over by a military group avenging their defeat by enemies using Palisade weapons, or a sex house, until Steve (Danny Dyer) bites into a tooth...with a gold filling.

They are soon finding that they are not alone. Jill sees someone in the woods outside and they discover scaffolding high in the trees. The next day over a paintball game, things turn bloody as the team finds themselves the victims of a deadly enemy.

What makes Severance a special film is its delicate use of comedy. It's more realistic and blends better with the horror than other horror-comedy offerings like Shaun of the Dead. It's the comedy of everyday people being out of their element. Gordon (Andy Nyman) cooking a found meat pie. Steve's attempt to preserve Gordon's foot, the misuse of a rocket launcher, and sexy women in almost nothing shooting high powered rifles. The sequence where we are told three different possibilities for an abandoned Palisade factory is particularly endearing and fun.

The characters are pretty stereotypical (druggie, crude Steve, by-the-book Gordon, rough Harris, clueless boss Richard, uptight Jill, etc.), but it works. After all, those stereotypes come from somewhere.

Director Christopher Smith wisely doesn't completely explain who it is that is attacking the Palisade team, though there are some clues amongst the blood, gore, and laughs.

Severance is a great film if you are looking for a fun trip through blood and guts. Who said dismemberment couldn't be funny?

Related Videos

Dark Corners

Toby Stephens (Harris) stars in Dark Corners. A troubled young woman wakes up one day as a different person - someone who is stalked by creatures.

The Calling

Laurie Harris (Maggie) stars in The Calling. On her wedding night, a young woman conceives a child during an hallucinatory encounter. Several years later, as her friends and family begin to behave strangely, she pieces together clues that lead to one conclusion...her son is the Antichrist!


Christopher Smith also directed the recently released Triangle. When Jess sets sail on a yacht with a group of friends, she cannot shake the feeling that there is something wrong. Her suspicions are realized when the yacht hits a storm and the group is forced to board a passing ocean liner to get to safety, a ship Jess is convinced she's been on before. The ship appears deserted, the clock on board has stopped, but they are not alone... Someone is intent on hunting them down, one by one. And Jess unknowingly holds the key to end the terror.

Girl Number 9

James Moran also co-wrote Girl Number 9, a 6-part web thriller debuting on October 30 at 9:00pm (GMT). Vincent Boylan (Joe Absolom) has just been arrested, suspected of being the man behind the brutal murder of seven girls, but the team only have a limited time to get a confession out of him. If they can't make him talk, he could slip through their fingers. Detective Matheson (Gareth David-Lloyd), who led the investigation, is sent in to try and get some answers. But things soon take a horrifying turn for the worse, as Matheson and his boss Lyndon (Tracy-Ann Oberman) are about to find out that all is not as it seems. Watch Girl Number 9 starting October 30th.

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