Worth A Look: 45.65%
Pretty Bad: 26.09%
Total Crap: 17.39%
6 reviews, 10 user ratings
by Scott Weinberg
SCREENED AT THRE 2006 FANTASTIC FEST: I've seen "Severance" described as a lot of things: "The Next Shaun of the Dead" is one. "The Office Meets Deliverance" is another. Neither are entirely accurate, but if those descriptions get you to buy a ticket for this delicious little piece of British horror/comedy, then I have no problem whatsoever with those descriptions.Sophomore effort from director Christopher Smith (Creep) and first-time screenplay from writer James Moran, Severance is all sorts of fun. It's about a group of weapons company executives who, against their wishes but at the behest of their stuffed-shirt boss, head out for a "team building weekend" -- deep in the woods of Eastern Europe. Not too bright, I know.
"Weapon-makers get a taste of their own medicine -- and then some!"
Turns out there's some forest folk who hold a decidedly nasty grudge against the Palisade Defense staff -- and they're not afraid to show off their displeasure through the use of guns, knives, flamethrowers, land mines, and bear traps. Yep, bear traps.
If the first half of Severance feels like a snarky, dialogue-based comedy flick, then the second half is pure, bloody mayhem. That both halves work so smoothly (and tie together so slickly) is a testament to Smith's improving skills and Moran's talent on the word processor. It seems fairly obvious that both filmmakers have experience working in an office environment, as the cast is composed of several broadly amusing stereotypes: In addition to the aforementioned stuffed-shirt, we also get a sycophantic yes-man, a by-the-book prissy chick, an amusingly arrogant salesman, etc. And then we get out heroes: A lovely American gal named Maggie and a drug-loving slacker-type called Steve. (Actors Laura Harris and Danny Dyer, excellent throughout the movie, strike a particularly strong chemistry during Severance's later scenes.)
Smith and Moran are clever enough to mix the characters up: Some of 'em are so obnoxious that you can't wait to see them get slaughtered -- while others are strangely sweet or endearing enough to create a "rooting interest" for the viewer. Severance also boasts an impressive look, strong production design, and a pace that might stumble just a little in Act I -- but once things get rolling, there's a whole lot of fun to be had here.You'll chuckle at the British banter, you'll cheer the creative carnage, and you'll root for the heroes through their third act uprising. If that's not a fun way to spend 90-some minutes, I don't know what is.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14900&reviewer=128
originally posted: 10/01/06 23:10:56
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