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I love a Brit flick but there are two words that lead me to say an immediate "no" to watching any film before even knowing what it is about and those two words are Danny and Dyer (together and in that order of course). I have nothing against Danny Glover for example - in fact I love Leathal Weapon.
That said I stumbled upon Severance on BBC3 this week and thought what the hell as there was nothing else on.
In short the film is about a group of sales people from a multinational weapons corporation who are in Hungary on a work "team building trip". They get lost in the woods and are stalked by a group of Hungarian lunatics. We've all been their right? To be honest I have been on some team building trips where I would rather have been there. The story is quite fast paced and you soon realise that there is no messing about with this film - once you are caught you are a gonner.
This film is very gory but at the same time it is a black comedy and has some laugh out loud moments. It is delivers it humour in a very British way, a humour that I personally find much funnier than in American films of the same ilk. I didn't think I could ever find a man caught in a bear trap so funny. There are some great one liners and a few jump out of your seat moments, all in all the film is good fun.
It's not great, its not terrible but I can't help but think the film would have been 10 times better had it not been for Danny Dyer (sorry Danny).
If you are after a bit of mindless gore/comedy then give it a go.
I am by no means a fan of Danny Dyer, both in terms of his acting or his persona. However, Severance left my pleasantly surprised and is a movie that I'd recommend.
I'm quite a big fan of British movies, generally finding them far more realistic and down to earth than ones from across the borders. However, there aren't too many thrillers about like Severance. The film is set up a team of work collegues who go out into the mountains on a team building course but come a cropper when there is more to the area they're staying in than meets the eye. The workers become the target of a group of crazed killers who will do anything to see them all dead. The team building exercise becomes one of survival.
The reason I like Severance is because it's very to the point. You see a lot of American thrillers where there seems to be endless running and near misses but with this, once caught that is just about your lot. Better still, much of it comes back to very old school military tactics which is very much my cup of tea. From bear traps, to hidden mines and lots of knives and fisticuffs this for me is a very well written thriller. It doesn't have the glam that comes with many of the top cinema releases but is a very good watch.
What we have here is a good, British, gore fest horror. It's not something that you could say hasn't been done before, as if you racked your brains you could probably recall other films that have a similar if not exact feel about them. But that does't change the fact that this is still a very good film in it's own right. The killings, the humour, the personalities, they are all particular to this story and as such, work very well. Also if you are a "Danny Dyer" fan then you will love this example of him at his best.
The film is about a group of office workers from a weapons defence comapny that have been organised together to go on a team building weekend in the mountains of eastern europe, but after their bus is unable to go all the way, they end up having to walk the rest of the way to their luxury weekend accomodation.
Upon getting their, after getting completely lost first, they find an old run down house that makes each them wish they had called in sick. Cue, the srcasm Danny Dyer is famous for and enter the brown noser that decides to try and encourage and take control of the situation.
After a very short while we realise that the house they have made their own is actually not the right place attall and the gory fun and games start. A band of hill billyish type men, who we never truly really know who they are, it's hinted at and described on a couple of occassions though, start taking it in turns at getting each and everyone of the group one by one and performing unbelieveably sick mutilations one each.
One particular bit which makes you go "Oh yeah" is when a guy talks about if a human head got cut off, the person could still see and blink their eyes for a few seconds. Then.......wait for it.......we get to see if its true for our selves!!
I have 2 favourite scenes from the film myself, one is when Danny Dyer is having a fight with one of the men and getting the crap kicked out of him, until the guy knocks Danny's tooth out and Danny goes all incredible hulk on him. Very funny scene!
Another is to do with a heat seeking rocket launcher and where it ends up going after missing its target, I won't ruin the scene if you've not seen it, but you will sit there and go "Oh my god".
Theres also a really yuck bit to do with a quiche and a tooth, even now the memory of it makes me cringe!
This film is very well paced and merges a good amount of humour with the gore and killings, something which a lot of films mess up. It's something that you cant take too seriously too, and if you sit down and take it for what it is (humorous gory horror) you will enjoy!!
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
It was only inevitable after the success of Shaun of the Dead that numerous British comedy horror films would follow, and the most direct successor to that film was Severance a fun film that, while nothing on Shaun of the Dead, is still a fun and action-packed venture.
The film opens with the European Sales division of Palisade Defence heading on a bus for a luxury weekend away at a lodge in the Mátra Mountains of Hungary. They have to divert from their prescribed route, with manager Richard (Tim McInnerny) getting into an argument with the bus driver, who then leaves them all at the side of the road.
They arrive at the lodge, which isn't what they expected, and Harris (Toby Stephens) finds some eerie and cryptic files. Harris conveys a story he heard, that the lodge was formerly a mental institution, in which all of the inmates were murdered. Jill (Claudie Blakley) has a different story, but they have one similarity: there is one loon still alive, waiting for revenge. The other main character is Steve (Danny Dyer), a lad-ish type who doesn't take himself too seriously.
Soon enough the kills begin coming, and the film becomes an outlandishly gory affair, making light of some ridiculous moments for great amusement. Dyer delivers his best performance to date, and the whole idea is very clever, particularly one scene involving a landmine, which is very tense. The whole thing is of course a total throwback, but it works largely because of the chemistry of its cast and because it has so many original kills.
It'll recieve numerous comparisons to Shaun of the Dead, no doubt. Whilst not as entertaining as the aforementioned, it's still a bloody good laugh.
Released in 2006, Severance is a British-made horror comedy in which a group of office workers working for a big defence company specialising in military hardware go on a corporate team-building trip via coach to a remote location in the Hungarian mountains. They end up taking a wrong turn however, and find themselves being mercilessly hunted down and killed one-by-one by a group of deranged and heavily armed Russian war criminals.
The film contains lots of gruesome scenes, with people being hung upside-down and gutted, caught in bear-traps, decapitated, tied to a tree and fried with a flamethrower and so on, but despite the gore it remains at its core a deliberately silly and light-hearted horror, similar in places to Shaun of The Dead and with a decidedly British sense of humour.
The dynamic between the characters is entertaining and the cast's performances are solid, whilst Tim Mcinnery (Percy from Blackadder) gives a particularly amusing perdomance as incompetent and insecure team manager Richard trying desperately to hold everything together. The plot is utterly formulaic but still fun, and there are plenty of enjoyable comedy monets throughout, such as a slapstick routine with a team-member's severed foot and a scene in which the head CEO of the company heroically turns up with a rare prototype weapon but ends up bringing down an overhead passenger plane with it by accident.
The film does a good job of parodying itself and even moves into TROMA territory towards the end, with two heavily endowed Eastern-European women turning up with machineguns and firing away at their foes in slow-motion, their breasts wobbling from the recoil of the guns.
Severance is hardly the funniest or most original horror film out there, but with a decent cast, amusing story and good, over-the-top SFX it remains entertaining throughout and is well worth a watch.
People getting lost in the middle of nowhere and then hunted down by some creepy dude is almost a genre in itself. It's an old favourite with horror folk, and can be seen everywhere, like The Hills Have Eyes (creepy dude in desert), Wolf Creek (creepy dude in outback), the old classic Friday the 13th (creepy dude in summer camp) and the once banned The Burning (creepy dude with a pair of shears.)
What you expect from these films is bland characters, a bit of build up, and then lots of running about and getting killed. They can be done well (Wolf Creek) or badly (the abysmal remake of Texas Chainsaw) but they generally do what they say on the tin. Well, if the tin says "people run about and get killed." What Severance has done is take the tin and wedge it into a big comedy bottle to form some sort of weird tin/bottle hybrid.
Severance is a British horror. Take one bus load of office workers, send them to a Romanian forest for a team building weekend, and throw in a few crazy guys with a penchant for torture. It's not rocket science. It's people running about in a forest getting killed. But it also veers from the usual template of this genre, and adds a decent script, likeable characters and some moments of absurd hilarity. And this is why it shines. One moment you're tensely waiting for something to jump out at them. The next they're berating the office nerd for feeding them a pie he 'found' ("but it was wrapped in tin foil...") One minute you're wincing as a rusty bear trap goes snap. The next you're laughing out loud as there's a struggle to fit a severed leg into the fridge.
There's banter, black humour, pokes at the recent 'terror' obsession, extreme violence and sometimes-verging-on-inappropriate belly laughs. What more do you want? How about self awareness? Writer/Director Christopher Smith is a big horror fan, and knows all too well what he's doing here. Example: he knows that these sorts of film often shamelessly feature women's boobies. So he shamelessly shows some too - but in such a way that you can almost feel him smirking behind the camera. As such, rather than have the usual "oh for god's sake" reaction to such female exploitation, I'm just laughing away at the topless bird firing a machine gun in slow motion. But Severance never descends into total parody. Like Snakes on a Plane, though it recognises the various pitfalls of its chosen genre, it still sticks to the rules.
The horror in this film isn't quite horror enough to be a successful horror film, and the comedy isn't relentless enough for it to be a full-blown comedy. But with the two parts equally mixed, a new genre is created. Not like Shaun of the Dead (that is pure comedy, with occasional stabs of gore) and not like The Burning (horror, with occasional pangs of amusement), this is half an exciting yet scary run through the woods, and half a clever, hilarious jape.
I realise Severance is supposed to be a horror film but I actually found it more funny than it was scary. I know that may make me sound quite sick, however I did not feel that the film created enough suspense, so when it got to those final moments when people are supposed to jump out of their seats, it did not really have the desired effect. I think that if this film did not have the funny side to it, then it would not be any good at all. And it is because of this funny side that I actually rather enjoyed it. If you wanted to know what kind of film it was similar to, I would say Shaun of the Dead. Obviously the main difference is that Shaun of the Dead is supposed to be a comedy and Severance is supposed to be a horror film. But it is deliberately funny and I will guarantee that it will make you laugh.
This is a typical Danny dyer film meant to be horror but turned comedy. The film starts with a weapons company having a team building exercise in a eastern European country. They start off travelling through Europe, they stop off at a truck stop and as usual Danny dyer has to but drugs in the form of magic mushrooms and has bad ones in which he trips out for a while when they finally get to there destination there is a tree fallen in the way of the road in which they need to take but there is another track in which the bus driver will not go so he orders everyone to get off the bus and this is where the story takes a turn for the worst because they have entered an area full of old cold war experiments in the form of Russian fighter but do not get the wrong idea because this is purely comedy value in my eyes and the rest of the film is based on Danny dyer getting out of the area alive with his work colleagues. enjoy watching because i did thanks for reading.
A decent horror film for me is one with comedy. I just can't take the genre seriously without some dark humor or tongue-in-cheekiness, as is the case with this one. I haven't been scared by a horror film in my life and 'sussed' from an early age that nothing was real in these films, the heads coming off, not real, the blood ,Kensington Gore. The whole concept just seemed ridiculous, although 'Scanners' still looks fantastic. So when Severance came up and the same person who recommended Neil Marshall's cracking 'Dog Soldiers' and the stylish 'Descent', said I would like this I agreed a to rent-and I'm happy I did. If you're the above horror fan who can't take all the nonsense seriously then this maybe for you. It's not outstanding, but its good fun.
The introduction of satire makes this work on another level, here mixing Deliverance with The Office, allowing that mechanism. A British comedy of manners meeting an Eastern European backwoods was probably based on a cost decision on minor cast and crew members but makes for something different in the blossoming British horror film industry. You can't do anything in England without the help of our new cheap workforce so why not be ironic and go there and exploit that cost-cutting for once. That joke is not lost within the movie.
First we find a suitable location where cell-phones are out of range, the pesky devices the scourge off modern horror movie plots and the supreme suspense killer if left unsupervised on those look behind you moments, here a mountainous forest in the Hungarian smoky mountains the oasis from technology. Arriving here is a group of office workers from a British arms company on a team- building weekend, the employees of 'Palisade Munitions' expected to complete the challenge under the leadership of Capt Darling himself in Tim McInnerny (Richard), his bumbling not exactly looked up to by his staff, especially cockney Steve (Danny Dyer), and American rep Maggie (Laura Harris). But Richard 'can't spell success with out 'U'.
The company's motto is 'If you don't have it, they will'.
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2nd best salesman on the bus: We will win the 'war on terror!'
Top salesman: I hope not.
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When the coach driver abandons them for all sorts of reasons they have to walk the final mile or so to the lodge, failing to find even that, ending up in a ramshackle house, where the pie in the fridge is a pointer to who might have lived there. But Richard still insists they are in the Lodge and so begins the team building exercises and what better than some pretendy war - paintballing! Star rep Harris (Toby Stephens) is already bored.
The more obnoxious the employees behave, in the spirit of the British horror genre the quicker they move up the target list for the unknown assailants shuffling around outside the house in the dead of night. In American horror films they get killed in order of cool where as here it's in order of irritation. Steve's obtuse insistence to pop some magic mushrooms confuses us more to what's real and what's not outside those windows.
Even though Richard doesn't want to go home after a traumatic night for the white-collar pen pushers, a show of hands says its time to leave, and fast. But when they get to the road to flag down some help they find the coach driver dead and the coach in the ditch. It seems someone or something doesn't want them to leave this corner of Hungary as the swirling cloud and rustling wind spook them even more. And with the woods full of bear traps and far worse they may have missed their chance.
Richard (with a stoic grin): Stop, the whole place is mined! It's a CRM 'Platform Buster'...one of ours' (proud grin of satisfaction).
Toby Stephens ... Harris
Claudie Blakley ... Jill
Andy Nyman ... Gordon
Babou Ceesay ... Billy
Tim McInnerny ... Richard
Laura Harris ... Maggie
Danny Dyer ... Steve
David Gilliam ... George
Juli Drajkó ... Olga
Judit Viktor ... Nadia
Sándor Boros ... Coach Driver
What better way to have a giggle at the war on terror with a British arms company getting its just desserts from its own kit not 50 miles from where the Rendition flights landed. There's no doubt that writer James Moran is not only taking one at all the people he's ever worked with in an office (which he confirms in the DVD extras) but a dig at his countries involvement in the war in Iraq. But it's a comedy and so let's not go there, the excellent cast enjoying a cheeky and funny script to the full, playing with the genre with abstract humor and an oddball soundtrack.
In its fun offbeat approach to horror, it expertly shifts the fun and frightening with smart precision when least expected. Playing it dead straight-to a point-means it's dead funny, this genre-bender skewering all the slasher clichés. With the tongue quite literally ending up in the cheek, right from the opening B-Movie busty opening to the cheeky ending this ticks all the right boxes if you have long since grown tired of a worn genre that has been beaten in Hollywood like an old rug in an Irish slum. This doesn't scare you but it does make you giggle. And there's nothing wrong with that. Its not Dog Soldiers but it is rentable.
= = = = Special Features = = =
Audio commentary by director Chris Smith and the cast and crew...
Straight forward behind the scenes stuff on location in Hungary.
An anima style intro sequence is here for your viewing pleasure
-Being Danny Dyer-
A self explanatory home video from cinemas biggest knob (in many ways, apparently)
-Palisades Company Video-
We see a team building video on the coach and apparently it's worth a place on the extras.
-Danny Fight Scene-
Danny Dyer loves himself and its any excuse here to get on the extras.
-The Genesis of Severance-
The writer and director talk about how the film came about. Moran originally called the script "P45", the idea that if the employees failed the team building exercise they get fired, Chris Smith reworking it with him to what it is now.
It flips over in the film and we see the Hungarian stuntmen in action. They thought they were supposed to go 50mph rather than 50 kph up the hidden ramp. Whoops!
-Not to special effect-
We see the Kensington Gore in action.
There is an Easter Egg here (a hidden extra) but it s easy to spot.
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RuN-TiMe 90 minutes
Cheap deal at Blockbusters
Imdb.com scores it out of 6.8 out of 10.0 (9,567 votes)
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A group of British sales execs are on their way to a team-building weekend in Hungary. As the tv screens on the coach recycle promotional videos for Palisade Defense, the driver pulls up sharply, the road blocked by fallen trees. Refusing to take a detour down a narrower road running off at a tangent, the driver throws everyone off the bus and drives away. The stranded party set out in the general direction of their intended destination, eventually stumbling upon a run-down lodge which they assume is the one meant for their weekend. Reluctantly establishing themselves in their new home, the group speculate over dinner as to the history behind the lodge, with Jill (Claudie Blakley) suggesting that it was a centre for Russian war criminals.
With Harris (Toby Stephens) having found a cabinet with Palisade documents written in a foreign language and Jill subsequently spooked after seeing someone lurking in the trees, the group start to get nervous and agree to send a search party to try and find the coach driver. In the meantime, the rest of the party stay behind and embark on their team building exercises by playing paintball. As Gordon (Andy Nyman) steps back, his leg gets caught in a bear trap and as Harris and Jill return after finding the bloodied body of the coach driver stranded on waste ground, they look on in horror as the repeated attempts to free Gordon succeed only in severing his leg at the knee. Hurrying onto the coach, their desperate flight to freedom is cut short by a stinger devise draped across the road and they quickly realise that they are hunted prey by an unknown enemy.
"Severance" is a British horror flick, released in 2006, directed by Christopher Smith and co-written by Smith and James Moran. I was drawn into watching it by the billing that it was from the director of "Creep" (another low-budget horror flick from 2005 set on the London Underground). Whilst "Creep" was suitably dreadful, it did have its moments with occasional sequences of genuine inspiration and so I thought I'd pick up on director, Christopher Smith's latest efforts.
Well, in every way this has a low budget feel to it. Again, there are moments of ingenuity. Smith attempts to inject black humour throughout although this is overwhelmed at times by the blood and gore count. Steve's (Danny Dyer) attempts to squeeze the severed leg into the fridge on the coach, the scene shot from the back of the fridge, is original and the sight of him having to take the shoes and socks off the stray limb before wedging it in at an angle was something I hadn't encountered before. As Harris is walking along, defending the ethics of Palisade's weapons, he reflects on the more inhumane aspects of killing devises down the ages. Commenting on the fact that victims of the guillotine would not have been dead after the dreaded blade had fallen and would have been aware of their surroundings for up to 3 minutes after decapitation, ironically he suffers that very fate himself after having been thrown clear of the coach following the booby trap, dispatched by a machete. With a spinning shot of the view from his severed head, the detached body part comes to rest with a clear sight of his body. Macabre but original.
On the whole though, "Severance" is not a great movie. The acting is pretty woeful for the most part with a very tired looking Tim McInnerny taking the lead as Richard, the man in charge. It's virtually impossible to think of McInnerny without hearing Stephen Fry's raucous shouts summoning Captain Darling and the twitching, boot-licking character from the annals of Blackadder turning up. Richard is a lamentable, jelly of an individual and with no decent lines other than his faux pas about sending Harris and Jill up the hill, McInnerny is mainly restricted to feeble management cliché like "I can't spell success without "u". And you, and you, and you..." and so, when his does get his comeuppance, it's a blessed relief. Unfortunately, even Richard's demise is a bit tepid with some pathetic special effects enshrining the main lead being blown up by a land mine. The effect is all a bit cartoon and perhaps it's appropriate that he leaves the screen in such a flaccid manner.
As for the rest of the cast then the only one that manages to engender any empathy at all from the audience is the mushroom-taker Steve. With a cock-er-ney, geezer-like outlook and a glint in his eye, Danny Dyer does a reasonable job of getting us to like him with his penchant for drugs and the odd laddish quip and he's about the only one I found myself rooting for to survive the onslaught from the balaclava wearing maniacs stalking in the woods. Quite why the paramilitary looking outfit, armed to the teeth with machine guns and with an unlimited supply of machetes and knives, have such a big problem with this arms company is never made overly clear, just as taking a road running in a different direction by the company suckers when their map shows that the main road and the country road (which is clearly more creepy) join up again later on looks distinctly odd. Personally, I would have just stepped over the obstructive tree trunks and marched down the main road, hoping to encounter a Shell service station selling sandwiches and the odd bit of petrol. Needless to say, nobody can get a mobile phone signal at any stage (the stock in trade of the horror flick) although Maggie (Laura Harris) does find a phone in a disused building whilst trying to flee the Ker-azees trying to kill her after having survived several rape attempts and demolishing a bad man's head with a large rock, only to be put on hold by some Hungarian operator who clearly doesn't understand the lingo.
With a run time of just 91 minutes and an 18 certificate, "Severance" is a horror film for adults only. With a daft script, ludicrous plot and enough inventive slaughter to turn this into a respectable gore-fest, "Severance" is worth a watch, if only to plot director Christopher Smith's progress since "Creep". Brownie points for attempting black humour, thumbs up for some inventive set pieces but, ultimately, this is a run-of-the-mill, low budget horror to while away an odd hour and a half too. Quite frankly, I enjoyed it in the same masochistic way that I enjoyed "Creep"; Smith seems to be establishing a groove.
Thanks for reading
DVD available at Amazon from £4.98
A team of workers for a weapons company are sent on a team-building course in Hungary. On arrival at a lodge in the middle of a forest, they are slightly freaked to find that, far from being the luxury accommodation they were expecting, they have to stay in a creepy building with just a few basic facilities. Things take a turn for the worse the next day when two of them find their coach driver dead and another one loses his leg to a bear trap - one of many that litter the woods. Trying to escape in the coach, they crash and are forced to face the fact that someone doesn't want them to go...alive, that is. But who is trying to kill them, and why? Will any of them escape alive?
As a team of seven, it is would be very difficult to mention the performance of some of them and not the others, so bear with me while I go through them. As team leader, Richard, Tim McInnery is one of my favourite characters. I've loved his acting since the Blackadder days; although this also a comic role, it is much less silly and gives McInnery the chance to show us what he's made of, giving a sort of David Brent-like performance. He is given to using business speak - 'ownership' and the like, yet is looked upon by his colleagues as a bit of a prat. Although perhaps not the top of the bill actor-wise - that distinction is really left to Danny Dyer - he still does a really good job.
Another favourite for me is Jill, played by Claudie Blakely. As one of the two main women, she is the less attractive, sensible cousin to the gorgeous Maggie (they reminded me of Daphne and Velma from Scooby Doo for some reason!). However, she may not win in the looks department, but she certainly does in the acting. Blakely has apparently won awards for her acting and I am not surprised. There is one point where she is bound and gagged when facing her attacker - the fear in her eyes was palpable and very realistic.
Danny Dyer, who plays Steve, is a the tip of everyone's tongues these days, although I have to admit that I have never knowingly seen him in anything apart from this. I liked him - he certainly has all the best lines and delivers them with perfect comic timing. Steve is a typical lad - likes women, magic mushrooms and ecstasy - and Dyer fits in perfectly with these characteristics.
There wasn't a bad performance from anyone, although I probably liked Maggie, played by Laura Harris, the least. To be fair though, this is probably because she is a beautiful blonde with a gorgeous figure more than anything else and certainly towards the end of the film she shows that she is a bit more than just a pretty face with a kick-ass performance. The other three men, Harris (Toby Stephens), Gordon (Andy Nyman) and Billy (Babou Ceesay) play the good-looking know-it-all, the geek and the straight as a die good guy respectively. I have seen Toby Stephens in a couple of things - Poirot and Onegin for a start - and think he is a great actor. He didn't disappoint me here either, although we perhaps don't have the chance to really get to know him. Andy Nyman is great as Gordon - after Danny Dyer, he probably has the best lines - and manages to deliver them all with perfect timing. Babou Ceesay is absolutely adorable as Billy. This is apparently his first screen role - I really hope we get to see more of him - he has a gentle, kind face that I found hugely attractive and he's pretty good as an actor too.
I didn't really know what to expect when I rented this film. I knew that it was a cross between a horror and a comedy, but that was about it. As far as the humour goes, it is definitely black as black can be. I would quote some of the lines, but they really have to be heard in situ to be appreciated. It is not the sort of humour that had me laughing out loud, but it did amuse me. This is good old-fashioned British humour at its best.
There are some really gory bits that are shockingly realistic; for examle, Gordon loses his foot and Steve tries to squeeze it into the fridge in the coach and it looks all too natural! Other bits are less realistic, which is probably just as well, because it would have been much less of a comedy is they were. I think the rating of 15 is probably right here - don't presume that because it is a comedy it will be suitable for young children.
Christopher Smith, who directed and wrote part of the screenplay for the film, has done a really good job, particularly considering this is only his second foray into directing. The atmosphere is slowly built up right from the start, but then the real action part is kept quite short - which I thought was wise - any longer and I think I would have got bored. As it was, the suspense kept me on edge. The location for the film, in the middle of a forest, was excellent and really added to the atmosphere.
If I have to criticise the film in any way, it would be that we don't really find out the reason for what happens. It is hinted at, but the audience is very much left to make up their own minds. However, I don't really see it as a problem - I like to be challenged and I liked being left thinking.
I'm not going to say that this is a brilliant film, because it isn't, but I did really enjoy it. I have the sort of sick sense of humour that the film requires, so it suited me down to the ground. I just wish I'd got round to seeing it earlier. Recommended, providing you don't mind a bit of blood and violence with your humour.
The DVD is available from play.com for £5, including free delivery - bargain!
Running time: 95 minutes
Weapons Defense are a large weapons-creation company. A group of salesmen and saleswomen who work in the European division are sent on a team-building weekend in Hungary. Their weekend turns into a life-or-death battle against a group of killers who want revenge on the company.
An interesting cast, the most recognisable member of which to me was Tim McInnery, who I remember from the BLACKADDER TV series many years ago. McInnery plays the manager of the sales team, and he comes across as a very ineffective manager, much in the mould of David Brent from TV's THE OFFICE.
McInnery's 2nd in command is played by Andy Nyman, and is very much played as a sucking-up character to the boss - he also reminded me very much of Gareth from the original UK version of THE OFFICE. This character is equally ineffective, and comes across as a bit of a twit who it is very difficult to feel any sympathy for - until that is, something VERY horrific happens to him, which I won't spoil here, but which does help to make you care for the character.
The requisite 'hot girl' which is usually required in this kind of movie is an American babe played by Laura Harris. She is the 'nice girl' who all of the guys seem to have the hots for.
Danny Dyer plays the nominal lead character, although this is a bit of a misnomer as this is very much an ensemble piece. Dyer seems to be well known amongst younger male moviegoers, perhaps mainly due to his role in 2004's FOOTBALL FACTORY.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE FILM
I would say that this is a fun film to watch, but only if you can cope with blood, guts and gore. It starts off like a big-screen version of THE OFFICE, primarily because of the character types involved. However half-way through the film turns into something very different, and in places made me think of the 'torture' horror films which seem to be quite popular at the moment.
En route to a wood side luxury lodge, deep in the Eastern European mountains, members of a leading defence organisation's sales team suddenly find themselves rather lost. Despite their best attempts to locate the lodge on their map, they are unable to persuade the coach driver to take a diversion and after a brief, heated argument, they find themselves abandoned in the middle of nowhere, with only a bare idea of where they need to go. As they make their way through the woods, they aren't entirely sure that they are heading in the right direction; their nervousness is only made worse by Steve, a member of the team who is high on magic mushrooms and seems to be hallucinating about seeing people in the trees.
When they finally reach their destination, their fatigue turns to despair when the "luxury" lodge that they were promised turns out to be almost derelict. The team leader, Richard, does his best to raise their spirits but in the absence of any comforts, his attempts are largely unsuccessful. That night, as she prepares for bed, another member of the team, Jill, is disturbed by what she believes to be a man, watching her from the trees. The men of the team rush outside to have a look, but find nothing. In an attempt to calm the hysterical woman, Richard reluctantly agrees to review things in the morning and decide whether they should go home.
In the morning, the team's mood is no different, but things are about to take a turn for the worse. A grisly discovery in the woods prompts Richard and Jill to hurry back to camp and warn their colleagues that they are all in serious danger. But by the time they get there, Richard and Jill's friends have pretty much worked that out for themselves
Severance is billed as one of those curious horror comedy things. I'm not a fan of the genre. Whenever someone mentions horror comedies, my mind immediately switches to the Scary Movie series and promptly shuts down. Horror generally isn't very funny, you see, and whilst the medium can be used to make wry social observations, out and out laughs don't seem to follow hand in hand with out and out shocks. In 2006, when I first watched Severance at the cinema, I was hugely disappointed. Indeed, I thought that the film was so dreadful that after 30 minutes I simply got up and left. A year later, and after a second sitting, this time on DVD, this time in full, I feel quite differently about it. Somehow, director Christopher Smith (he did Creep - not a good start) has put together a product that intermittently made me laugh and jump and sometimes left me in a quandary about which would be more appropriate. Is the first successful horror comedy?
At the beginning, it's difficult to believe that much is going to happen that will make you laugh. A lone man and two women are stalked through the woods by an unseen menace. The woman fall into a trap and desperately try and claw their way out; the man finds himself suspended from a tree and promptly despatched in a suitably grisly manner by a rather large hunting knife. It's hardly the stuff to make you giggle but then events take a rather different turn and for the next fifteen minutes or so, we are introduced to the characters that may then make us laugh or shudder. This curious introduction is probably what initially put me off. The contrast between the opening slaughter and subsequent comedy is so stark that the two sit together very uncomfortably. But in all fairness, you need to make the investment to get to know the characters better, because first impressions may or may not count.
In the film's earlier scenes, the creators skill here could largely be filed under "leading you up the garden path". When Steve calls out for help, his friends rush to his aid, apparently shocked by the discovery of his predicament. As Jill leaves her room to fetch a drink, our attention is drawn to a large, hairy spider climbing its way up her back. As Richard, the team leader, wakens after a light bedtime snack, he is drawn seductively into the room of one of his female team members, visible only from behind as though something is wrong with her face. It's an elusive and elaborate exercise in tricking the audience to believe that menace is present, when in fact the opposite is in fact the case. But then with a cunning trick of hand, the menace reveals itself to be somewhere else entirely. In a straight-laced horror film, this kind of manoeuvre probably wouldn't work, given only that the audience's terror is offset by a little humour, a flourish that could only work, of course, in a horror comedy.
Notably, however, when Smith decides to go for horror, the film is remarkably brutal. As the team mates are gradually picked off, one by one, Smith wastes no opportunity in making their departures as brutal as possible. Once again, each of the incidents is somehow given a comedy diversion. One character is beheaded and then realises that a previous conversation may actually have been closer to the truth than he thought. An incident with a flame thrower is delayed by the protagonist's inability to light a match and a mishap with a bear trap will almost certainly get everyone rubbing their legs in uncomfortable sympathy. Importantly, the humour is almost entirely delivered by the good guys here, with our sympathies extended towards every member of the team, caught in a nightmare they dare not comprehend. Crucially, Smith realises that there is no mileage in making the bad guys funny, a common mistake in films of this nature (Dracula: Dead and Loving It anyone?) and ensures that their villainy is unblemished by the threat of having a laugh. Occasionally, things do become a little too farcical (an incident with an untested anti-terrorist device springs to mind) but these are few and far between, and in all fairness, they're also rather funny.
The horror gore aside, Smith also manages to use the Balkan woodland setting to great effect too. The film is very atmospheric, with a real feeling of isolation and increasing desperation. The woods seem to go on forever, and every shadow within the trees threatens to be exposed as a new danger. Smith's garden path humour works well again here, also, with an early pun about the existence of bears in the woods providing some sharp script and a witty visual joke. Indeed, the script is consistently very effective, with some hilarious one liners ("this is gonna hurt, mate") to accompany the humour and the horror.
Whilst it almost runs contrary to my better judgement, full merit must go to Danny Dyer to carrying off much of the humour. Dyer's stone head Steve is initially unwelcome, but after half an hour of drug-induced tomfoolery, he kind of settles down and is much easier to warm too. Sometimes he doesn't have to say much to capture the mood perfectly (his reaction to a pie dinner says it all) and he's plausible enough to become likeable. His female counterpart Maggie (Laura Harris) is just as likeable, if not rather more ballsy and the two bounce off each other pretty well. The rest of the crew is strong too. Tim McInnery's misguided company man Richard gets lots of laughs, given only his complete incompetence at actually leading the team and / or being a decent bloke. Andy Nyman's portrayal of tubby team member Gordon works really well; every team has someone like him. Claudie Blakely's vulnerable Jill has hidden depths and even the team smart ass Harris (Toby Stephens) quickly becomes likeable. It is, therefore, all the more horrific, of course, when things go pear-shaped for them.
Criticisms? The early scenes with Steve in a state of drug-induced hysteria are distracting and at odds with the rest of the film. It's as though Smith was going to toy with the idea of suggesting that the whole thing was in his imagination and it all feels rather unnecessary. Also, there are lots of ideas around the back story but the villains remain very one-dimensional, which works to an extent but also misses the opportunity to add an extra layer to the characterisation.
Generally, however, the format works really well and Severance yields itself a very entertaining blend of laughs and shocks. The strong cast keeps the story on its toes and the lack of cliché keeps it fresh. This isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it a perfect Hallowe'en antidote to slash and stab.
This is a review of the film only.
I this was one of my choices from the dvd subscription I have.
Working nine to five is a real killer, but when you work for Palisade Defence, team-building holidays can be even worse. Seven colleagues find themselves faced with the chop when their corporate weekend is sabotaged by a deadly enemy. Forget office politics, only the smartest will survive this office outing.
Seven colleagues (Harris, Jill, Maggie, gordon, Billy, Richard and Steve) who work for Palisade Defence ( a weapons company) are on a team building exercise, on their way to there destination (a luxury lodge in the Hungarian Forest) a tree blocks their path and the coach driver refuses to take them by an alternative route. They team get off the coach as the only way of getting there now is on foot.. When they reach the lodge it's anything but luxurious and they suspect they may have the wrong place especially as George (the owner of Palisade) isn't there to meet them) but as it's the only lodge on the map they decide to stay the night. During the night Jill sees a masked man at the window. The next day Harris and Jill are sent up the hill to see if they can get a mobile signal, it's then the group find out all is not what it seems with some grusome discovers, what ensues is the groups fight for survival.
Danny Dyer deviates from his usual role of wannabe gangster/criminal here and managed to pull it off quite well. The rest of the cast were very good but Laura Harris stood out more than any, I'd seen her Dead Like Me but I found her quite bland it that.
Toby Stevens (Sharpe's Challenge) - Harris
Claudie Blakely (Gosford Park)- Jill
Andy Nyman - Gordon
Babou Ceesay- Billy
Tim McInnery (Notting Hill) - Richard
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me) - Maggie
Danny Dyer (The Business) - Steve
Although i don't usually go for this kind of genre of film I was quite looking forward to seeing this cos I really Danny Dyer (not for his acting though). The story line was quite weak but the laughs were quite funny and came in the darkest moments where you wouldn't expect them to be. The good thing is that it's not just a scarey Buffy style monster living dead thing they're having to deal with (but I won't spoil it for those of you that having seen it by revealing what's really lurking in the woods). This film being a Horror/Comedy is bound to be compared to Shaun Of The Dead (which I don't think is as funny) but I think this has the edge. There's plenty of gore, it may make you jump, will probably make you laugh but you'll be able to predict the ending.
Directed by Christopher Smith (Creep)
Running Time: 90 mins
DVD Extras : A making of doc
A feature on Danny Dyer
I didn't watch either of these.
Prices: Available on ebay from 99p to £10.00
I dont normally watch horror films, but I knew that Severance was a British film, and played for comedic effect. It also only has a 15 rating, so I figured that it wouldnt be that scary. I was right; there is a fair amount of gore in this film, but I didnt find it scary. As the name suggests, the plot is plain vanilla madman-in-the-woods rather than anything supernatural.
After an initial gory taste of what is to follow, the film begins with a coach of British office workers heading to a team building exercise in the woods, somewhere in Eastern Europe. The seven main characters on board work for a defence company, Palisade, and have been on-tour promoting its products. Each of these characters is a parody of an office type: we have Richard, the cringe-making sales manager who uses clichéd expressions like I cant spell success without u, played by Tim McInnerny (most well known as Darling from Blackadder). Sucking up to him is Gordon, the over-enthusiastic office nerd, clutching his clipboard and anxious to organise the weekends proceedings. Joining him in nerd corner is the bespectacled Jill, the ever-so-slightly-conflicted politically correct weapons designer. We also have Billy the Nice Guy, Harris the conceited Sales Executive, Maggie the cool blonde American and Steve, the drug-taking IT slacker, played by Danny Dyer. At first I thought that these characterisations were very two-dimensional and obvious and would put me off the film, but they do work in the sense that they instantly set up the relationships between the characters without the need for too much further explanation. Most of the comedy in the early part of the film is based on the witty dialogue between the members of the group, so its essential that you are able to buy into this.
A fallen tree blocks the coachs progress but the driver refuses to take them on a detour through the woods, so the group set off on foot to their lodge. An exploration after arrival unearths some old files marked with the Pallisade logo, and the group sit around the dinner table discussing urban legends about the sites history. After one of the group discovers a tooth in the pie they are eating, they finally realise that something is not quite right.
What follows is essentially a splatter movie, as the group get picked off one by one, but with lots of humour and reference to other horror movies / movie folklore, in the style of Scary Movie. I especially liked the use of Billys Ill be right back (and no, what follows is not what you expect) and you just know that that discussion between Harris and Jill about whether the guillotine was humane or not with Harris insisting that the brain continues to function for a couple of minutes - is leading somewhere (not least to the title of this review). Despite the absurdity of any horror film, this one does actually manage to have a half credible (if political) motivation for the killer, which I enjoyed. There were several moments that made me jump, and the suspense is maintained well, although I wouldnt say that it scared me per se. The film manages to introduce some additional targets, courtesy of two hookers and another company employee, but only lasts for 90 minutes in total, which seemed quite short. Overall, it kept me entertained although I probably wouldnt rush to watch it again. Worth a watch, although think twice if you work for BAE or Thales.
If a weekend of team building exercises in the woods sounds like your personal idea of torture, spare a thought for the poor pen pushers of Severance. As if the obligatory paintball and trust exercises werent enough, theres a killer lurking outside their cabin--a killer holding a grudge against the unsuspecting employees of Palisade Defense... Severance is one of the best British horror movies to come out of the last couple of years. Its smarter than it has any right to be; screenwriter James Moran neatly sidesteps the numerous clichés littering the genre, balancing eye-watering gore with almost surreal humour, while Creep helmer Chris Smiths assured direction sells even the daftest (and cruellest) moments. Smith also draws great performances from a talented cast, including Dead Like Mes Laura Harris, Black Adders Darling Tim McInnerny, and Danny Dyer of Mean Machine and The Football Factory. Horror fans will lap this up; those lacking an iron stomach might watch some scenes from behind laced fingers, but will appreciate the fast-paced action and black humour nonetheless.--Sarah Dobbs