Review: Severance (2006, HanWay Films)




Category: Horror-Comedy, Thriller
Directed by:
Christopher Smith

Written by: Christopher Smith, James Moran
Starring: Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakly, Andy Nyman, Babou Ceesay
Music: Christian Henson
Cinematography: Ed Wild

In a fit of boredom I decided to revisit an old favorite that I haven’t seen in years, another shining example that the U.K. is damn good at spitting out smart and entertaining horror comedies. Severence follows a group of sales reps of weapon development company Palisade Defense as they go on a team building exercise. After the road to their luxury lodge is blocked by a fallen tree and an argument between their manager Richard (Tim McInnerny) and the non-English speaking Hungarian bus driver (Sándor Boros), the crew take an apparent alternate route on foot. One of them, Steve (Danny Dryer), claims to see men in the woods but this is dismissed due to the fact that he had eaten psilocybin mushrooms beforehand. They find themselves in a seemingly long abandoned cabin and after discovering some old military files in Russian they question their whereabouts. As you can guess, their excursion goes completely awry.

Many horror comedies fall flat on their face, outweighing the horror quality with dumb humor and even dumber characters. Even some good horror comedies lack the tension needed to make if feel like a horror film. Severance finds a healthy balance, combining reserved, dry humor and suspense while avoiding horror clichés and even giving us intelligent, well scripted characters. A rare combination. Writers James Moran and Christopher Smith (the director as well) knew all the right spots to throw something silly in to lighten the mood for just enough time for a good laugh before going back to the story. The dialogue is all well written and the acting is convincing. Even though not too much backstory is given to any part of the movie (which is kind of a good thing, sometimes less is more), the characters are still rounded out enough to like them. There are quite a few good action sequences and some blood is spilt, although the film isn’t too over the top with it’s use of gore. With a film like this, more gore wouldn’t have hurt, but oh well. The camera work is well done and the overall production looks real good, they obviously had a decent budget. There are also some well shot “fantasy sequences”, e.g. when Steve is on mushrooms, characters’ dreams, and when the group tells the origin stories they heard about the location.

While no one’s reinventing the wheel here, the people behind this took a simple concept and fleshed it out real well. There’s nothing bad about this movie that I can really touch on (okay, could’ve used more gore), it’s a solid horror comedy flick. So if you’re in the mood to see some Brits get hunted down in the woods with a few laughs in between, check this flick out.





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