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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.7%
Worth A Look45.65%
Average: 2.17%
Pretty Bad: 26.09%
Total Crap: 17.39%

6 reviews, 10 user ratings

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Severance (2007)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Insert Lame "Corporate Head-Hunting" Joke Here"
1 stars

If you were charged with creating a film that combined the sadistic violence of “Hostel” with the sly workplace comedy “The Office” and “Office Space,” you would probably come up with something similar to the British horror comedy “Severance.” The idea of fusing together cutthroat office politics with cut throats sounds amusing enough, I suppose, but as it goes on, it soon becomes apparent that whatever inspiration there was ended with the development of the basic premise. The result is a minor misfire that is too silly to be scary, too grisly to be funny and too draggy to hold anyone’s interest for more than a few minutes.

After the requisite gory prologue, “Severance” starts off with a group of sales reps–including such horror staples as the Good Girl, The Self-Centered Prick, The Horn-Dog and The Stoner–from a multinational weapons manufacturer traveling by bus to a team-building weekend retreat at a lodge in an unnamed Eastern European country. After a tree in the middle of the road forces the group to abandon ship, they hike their way to a dilapidated cabin that they inexplicably assume is where they are supposed to be. Eventually, the group figures out that they are in the wrong place–finding a human tooth in a pie left in the refrigerator has a way of bringing focus to a situation–but before they can escape, they find themselves being picked off one by one by unknown assailants and to confuse thing even more, the instruments being used to cause all the carnage (bear traps, land mines and the like) are items manufactured by their own company.

Goofy humor and gory horror are hard enough to pull off on their own–each one requires a certain cinematic style and a gift for timing if they are to succeed–and the few films that have pulled off the combination (such as the early films of Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson and the more recent “Shaun of The Dead”) are the ones made by people who have a facility for handling both the larfs and barfs with equal skill. The problem with “Severance” is that co-writer/director Christopher Smith doesn’t really seem to have a handle with either approach. The comedy, for the most part, falls flat–the acerbic by-play has no pop or zing and the characters are so throughly unlikable that when they start getting killed off, all you feel is a vague sort of relief that you won’t have to deal with them anymore. The bloodshed is equally uninspired–there are beheadings and piercings and disembowelments galore but they are staged without any real sense of tension or even a creative approach to the blood and gore.

When Smith tries to combine those two elements, the timing is off and the scenes just fall flat–there is no doubt a way of staging a scene in which someone frantically tries to cram an entire severed leg into a refrigerator not quite large enough to accommodate it but Smith hasn’t found it here. To be fair, there is one spectacularly funny moment on display in “Severance”–a quick, nasty and utterly unexpected bit involving a rocket launcher that has a ghoulish goofiness that the rest of the film otherwise lacks. This moment is so hilarious, in fact, that it appears to have come from an entirely different film and when it ends, you’ll find yourself wishing you had gone to see that film instead.

To be fair, “Severance” is at least a little more ambitious than most current horror films and it is stylish enough to suggest that Christopher Smith may have a good movie in him, even if this isn’t the one. However, aside from the one bit mentioned above (which should be flooding YouTube right about now), this is as inessential a film as you can imagine–if this movie were an actual office worker, it would be the kind of dead wood who seems to sit there all day without ever once offering even a token justification for its continued existence and employment.

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originally posted: 06/01/07 15:29:37
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2006 Fantastic Fest series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2006 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Boston Fantastic Film Festival For more in the 2006 Boston Fantastic Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Portland Film Festival For more in the 2007 Portland Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2007 Florida Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/29/07 Servo Freaking great fun and funny to boot. Check this out and Creep, Smith's 1st movie. 4 stars
7/03/07 William Goss Last forty minutes isn't worth sitting thru the first fifty for. 3 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK Anyone who wants to see a classic example of British humor Watch Only Fools and horses. 1 stars
3/20/07 Bitchflaps No substance beyond the British humour-meets-gore-film gimmick. Sadism for its own sake. 1 stars
10/09/06 Phil Funny, worth a watch 4 stars
10/08/06 Mark Oz Great fun. If it's on near you, don't miss it. 5 stars
9/27/06 Jenn Funny, Scary and gory 5 stars
8/08/06 Mary Elliers Excellent. Funny, scary, upredictable. 5 stars
7/29/06 John Walker Saw it in Korean film festival it's brilliant. Funny,scary and gory. 5 stars
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  18-May-2007 (R)
  DVD: 18-Sep-2007

  DVD: 08-Jan-2007


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