Severance

"OK"

Severance Review


The creators of Severance came up with a great pitch: it is, according to their press kit, The Office (presumably the U.K. version, as this is a British film) meets Deliverance. The problem is, I'm not sure if they came up with the pitch before or after they made the film; at its best, the resemblance is cosmetic.

In fact, the aspect of the British Office that Severance imitates most in its opening scenes is that show's occasional avoidance of actual satire in favor of invoking general malaise. We find members of the Palisades Defense sales team bussing their way to a team-building retreat; they're vaguely miserable, save for smarmy boss Richard (Tim McInnerny) and his suck-up assistant (Andy Nyman). But echoes of Brent and Gareth aside, this small group of sad-sacks looks like pretty much any other gang of Brit-com misfits: the slacker/stoner (Danny Dyer), the bumbling git (Nyman), the nerdy girl (Claudie Blakley), and the pompous guy (Toby Stephens). There's also a pretty American (Laura Harris) who all of the gents seem to fancy.

Spending build-up time with these people is not unpleasant, exactly; the prelude mayhem is far less tedious than in most slasher movies. And make no mistake: Severance is a slasher movie, with little Deliverance-style creepiness. The folks from Palisades wind up at the wrong retreat cabin in the wrong part of the woods, and a bunch of maniacs scarred by the military-industrial complex have at them accordingly.

That's where the satire comes in, I guess, but co-writer/director Christopher Smith doesn't dwell on it, to the point of forgetting why or if the slashing motivation matters (the various urban-legend versions of the bad guys' backstory, exchanged by the sales team, are more entertaining than whatever the movie decides is the truth).

His approach to squirm-inducing comedy is a bit more visceral, focusing on gory bits of slapstick rather than Office-style discomfort. He and his co-writer come up with a number of ghoulishly funny gag uses for bear traps, decapitations, and rocket launchers; you wonder if this (not the Office/Deliverance mix) was the impetus behind making the film in the first place. Like a lot of modern horror movies, Severance isn't particularly scary; unlike a lot of its competition, it is intentionally funny, though it never ascends/descends to the dark-comic levels of, say, Eli Roth.

Part of the problem is the victims, who seem chosen for sacrifice or survival more or less at random. They're neither satirical corporate drones nor jerks who deserve a comeuppance, which makes them merely more likable versions of slasher cardboard. The silent masked killers might be creepier if they didn't seem to be bought in bulk, possibly from the filmmakers behind Vacancy. The ensuing battle between the good victims of corporate ignorance and the evil victims of corporate negligence works for a few laughs, but cuts out way too early for anything more.

This wasn't in the employee handbook!



Severance

Facts and Figures

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th August 2006

Box Office USA: $66.7k

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Production compaines: Dan Films, Qwerty Films, HanWay Films, Isle of Man Film, N1 European Film Produktions GmbH & Co. KG, UK Film Council

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 57 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Jason Newmark

Starring: as Steve, as Maggie, as Harris, as Richard, Babou Ceesay as Billy, as Gordon, as Jill, David Gilliam as George, Juli Drajkó as Olga, Judit Viktor as Nadia, Sándor Boros as Coach Driver

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.