A team-building exercise in the deep countryside of eastern Europe becomes a bloody fight for survival when the sales team of Palisade, a multi-national arms corporation are stalked by a group of crazed and murderous ex-military soldiers.
Starring – Danny Dyer, Andy Nyman, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Laura Harris, Claudie Blakely, Babou Ceesay.
British director Christopher Smith’s Severance is his second film after the excellent London based horror Creep, Smith is a devotee of the horror genre with subsequent films: medieval-witchcraft movie Black Death (starring Sean Bean) and mind-bending horror Triangle, all highly recommended modern horror classics in their respective field. Severance however bears a difference to his other movies due to the inclusion of its fantastic black comedy, in fact the movie is as funny as it is gruesome (and boy is it gruesome!) …
Horror comedies are notoriously hard to pull off, the balancing of humour and gore takes a lot of skill from both the director and cast … too much humour and the film loses its horror edge, subsequently the horrific side can take away from its more comedic moments, but like other classic horror-comedies such as Evil Dead 2, Smith blends the two different genres masterfully producing one of the greatest comedy horrors of all time.
A scene that portrays this point perfectly comes in at about the halfway point of the movie, having just finished a ‘team-building’ paintball game one of the group, Gordon gets his leg snared in a bear trap, this is a truly brutal and gory sequence made even more so by the actor himself (Andy Nyman) who manages to show extreme pain and terror that really brings a reality to the situation. With the other team members attempting to remove the jaws of the trap with no success, Gordon not being able to withstand the pain any longer rips his leg forcefully from the trap leaving the lower half of his limb in the bear trap, an horrific and realistic sequence … within seconds of this you are laughing out loud again as the team’s resident stoner Steve (Danny Dyer) attempts to keep the severed limb cold by trying to force it into a small fridge on their coach with little success, until he removes the shoe and sock, with more revulsion to the smell of the foot than the actual severed limb itself, this sequence is hilarious!
The mainly British cast features many well known UK actors including Danny Dyer (Outlaw, the Business), Tim McInnerny (Black Adder,Black Death), Toby Stephens (Die Another Day, Wired) and Andy Nyman (Black Death, Kick Ass 2), their on screen camaraderie in the face of this appalling threat is amazing and really keeps you rooting for the group as a whole, not your usual horror movie fare because these are characters you actually care about, so that when the inevitable slaughter begins you genuinely lament the deaths of each and every one of them.
One of the few non British actors in this is Maggie, played by American actress Laura Harris (The Faculty, 24), she is the heroine of the piece, tough and intelligent, and the only one to take the fight to the killers themselves. She is the ultimate ‘final girl’ character and you will be rooting for her all the way throughout the film … a sterling performance.
Adding to the movies already entertaining comedy and horror are other fantastically well played scenes including an amazing Rashomon style sequence where members of the team recount stories of the ramshackle eastern European lodge they are staying in. Toby Stephens character Harris uses a 20’s style silent horror to tell of the lodge being a former mental asylum, Claudie Blakely who plays Jill, tells of it being a former military camp used by murderous soldiers, complete with a realistic and uncomfortable scene of soldiers executing civilians and once more the humour comes back in as Danny Dyer’s character Steve tells everyone that it is actually a sex lodge, complete with a scene of naughty nurses and heaving bosoms!
With a great cast, wonderful scenery (mainly shot in Hungary and the Isle of Man), laugh out loud humour, realistic gore effects and in the latter half of the film, a genuinely chilling atmosphere, Severance is a movie to search out if you have never seen it before … funnier than Sean of the Dead, gorier than Evil Dead – a horror-comedy masterpiece!
Precinct1313 Rating: 5 severed legs out of 5