Starring: Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakley
I had the honor of the North American premier of “Severance” at the 33rd annual Telluride Film Festival last week. SEVERANCE is director Christopher Smith’s follow up feature to 2004’s CREEP. Smith introduced the film as the film he could die happy knowing he had made. Smith’s financial backers wanted many cuts and changes, but Smith stuck to his guns trying to make a horror movie that was effective, yet had plenty of room to play. He provides moments of utter ridiculousness, snarfling, squirm in your seat, nervous air cut with the perfect amount of humor and the absurd. He made no concessions, and rightfully so! SEVERANCE is chockful of all those things you always wanted to see in a horror film, but no one was ever brave enough to use. Here we get amputation, disemboweling, decapitation, land mines, booby traps, and two topless Hungarian escorts with extremely large guns saving the day!
Smith’s excellent skewed sense of humor allows SEVERANCE to be a cautionary tale of large corporations and responsibility towards the weapons of mass destruction/military equipment industry. Too, the film investigates personal responsibility of individual employees of a corporation responsible for manufacturing and marketing weapons. As each character is picked off, it becomes clear that the ‘individual’ and the ‘corporation’ have been conflated into one single target/enemy.
It certainly been likened to being the SHAUN OF THE DEAD of slasher films. Actually, I kind of hate when film critics allude to other films as a way of describing another. I find it lazy. It dabbles with the dry sarcastic wit of BBC’s The Office, and the comic genius of SHAUN OF THE DEAD. So comparisons are bound to ensue. However, SEVERANCE was a treat! It was a slasher/horror/comedy. I liked it, it was right up my alley, very funny and entertaining, and not without its politics. The cast is ridiculously hilarious. Each character fleshed out. From the boss “I can’t spell Success with out U” to the nerdy as excited as-a-happy-little-puppy assistant, who couldn’t be happier to lead the office team in a round of paintball. Yes, this movie takes place in the mountains of Hungary, as the employees of a weapons corporation embark on a weekend of ‘team’ building.
You laugh till you cry, between there are some moments of tension, suspense, terror and horror.
One scene deserves special mention, being the unfortunate loss of a leg, which needs to be kept cold in the tour bus fridge. Danny Dyer handles the leg with care, as he removes the shoe in order to twist and shove the leg into the all too small mini-bar sized fridge. Of course, it’s gruesome and it left me almost peeing my pants with laughter. These types of equally gruesome gore and comedy are pulled off consistently throughout the film. It’s bound to be a big hit with both the most devoted of gore hounds and the more tentative viewers of slasher films. All in all it was good times.