As a horror/comedy, Severance lulls you into a false sense of security. The first fifteen minutes or so are the worst of the film, featuring some annoying setup contrivances and lame humour. At that stage I had prepared myself to enjoy a crappy comedy.
But slowly the film builds. Many comedies start out with a bang and then become annoying/boring or generally fizzle out towards the end, but Severance actually gets better with each passing moment. A group of office workers are on a team building weekend in an Eastern European forest™ and pretty soon find themselves at the wrong end of all sorts of pointy things, trying to staunch the flow of blood and stay alive. Interestingly enough, the first half of the film’s actually pretty creepy. Big, dark, European forests are way scarier than the Australian bush, and us horror audiences have be trained by Hostel: Part II, Nosferatu (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) and even Dario Argento’s Creepers (Phenomena) – these aren’t good places to be at night.
Disappointingly, the script doesn’t really explore the fact that these hapless victims are all co-workers to its full potential. Anyone expecting ‘The Office’ Outdoors will be disappointed. In fact it’s more in line with Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz – writers Christopher Smith and James Moran clearly love their horror movies whilst at the same time appreciating their absurdity.
This is a lower budget film, but there are moments at which they seemingly threw money. You’ll be comfortable with the fairly ugly set and slightly dodgy exposition and then be wowed by a classy flashback or stunning location. Most of the actors have resumes cluttered with lesser known material, excepting boss Tim McInnerny (most of ‘Black Adder’; Casanova) and Laura Harris (’24’) as the token American.
Severance takes a while to warm up, but once it’s all happening it’ll have you roaring with laughter. This is an impressive follow up to Christopher Smith’s Creep, which starred Franka Potente. That film was creepy, but fell victim to way too many clichés, the worst of which was an idiotic heroine. With Severance he’s deliberately avoided cliché – or revelled in it, depending on his mood. A hilarious and intelligent horror comedy.Rating: