Director – Christopher Smith
Cast – Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman, Babou Ceesay, Tim McInnerny, Laura Harris, Danny Dyer, David Gilliam, Juli Drajkó, Judit Viktor, Sándor Boros
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Writer/director Christopher Smith is not an established person in the horror realm, and despite him breaking into the genre with his 2004 film Creep, it was 2006’s Severance that put him on the map. Time and time again we have seen films involving a group of naïve individuals heading out into the wilderness only to find themselves in the sights of a deranged killer, but never with an element reminiscent of the infamous UK TV series, “The Office”. Yes, that is right, this film blends the likes of “The Office”, with some great gory horror fun. Read on.
Severance follows the European sales division of major weapons manufacturer Palisade Defence. The division has been awarded a weekend-long “team building” adventure in the Romanian woodlands, and while they see it as a chance to relax and goof off after a long sales season, they have a terrible surprise awaiting them. A group of war-crazed killers has plans of making sure that they never return to Palisade Defence, and in the goriest of ways.
No no no no no this is not as good as “The Office”, but just the idea alone of “The Office” mixed with horror is a sweet one. As you should be able to tell by now this is a witty horror/comedy, and it comes with a fair amount of laughs. The laughs are fulfilling, and not outlandish like the laughs we get in movies like Scary Movie, but simple yet thoughtful laughs that came as a result of good writing and a bright sense of humor. Now…let’s get to the horror.
Christopher Smith’s direction is top-notch and he proved himself worthy of horror prominence with his execution in this film. Right from the get-go we are thrown into great cinematography and perfect atmosphere for such a film, which helped grasp my attention and keep my interest. Smith makes use of great camerawork to set up each of the kills and scares we get(mainly in the first and second acts), which were not overly scary but nonetheless fulfilling and properly executed. We get some good gore as well, which was not overdone but in fact just perfect for what the film called for. In fact, I laughed during a few of the gore scenes, and I am sure that was Christopher Smith’s intention all along.
Story-wise this flick is fun, and should not be taken the least bit seriously. Do not get me wrong, what we get in the story is of a serious note, just with execution that leans it to the sillier side of things. I really liked the idea of a sales division getting stuck in the middle of the wilderness because these are some of the most hapless individuals you would expect to find in such a situation, which only worsens when they are forced to fend for their lives against a well-armed militia. There is not much more to the film other than the survivalism of the group, which was really fun to watch and came with many original elements I had never seen before, including what should have been some very cliché scenes but were in fact very original in how they were used, which I found not only enjoyable but memorable as well.
Overall, this is a fun horror/comedy that comes with positive humor and excellent direction. The story gives us a unique take on the realm of horror/comedy thanks to its “The Office” feel, yet the horror reigns supreme and makes this a memorable film to watch.