Severance

All right, guys. Let’s get serious here. Ladies, look away. When was the last time a movie gave you an erection? And no, I’m not talking about “Cock’N’Roll 4: Backstage Pass”. I’m talking about the last time you watched a horror movie and it rocked your senses so hard that your brain sent all of the blood in your body straight to your groin? If you can’t come up with answer, then you’ve never see Christopher Smith’s “Severance”. Not only is this one of the most inventive horror-comedies of the year, it’s one of the most inventive horror films ever made. Defying almost every horror cliché and borrowing influences from the greats, “Severance” not only means business, it kills a business.

A weapons business that is. The Palisade Defense sales team is traveling to Eastern Europe for a team-building weekend at Palisade’s “newly acquired luxury lodge.” If you’ve ever seen the UK or US version of “The Office” then you can immediately relate to the characters on the sales team. There’s Richard – the slightly cocky but passive-aggressive boss, Harris – Richard’s smart-alecky work nemesis, Jill – the passionate and opinionated “nerd” of the bunch, Billy – the soft-spoken but intelligent second-in- command-type, Gordon – Richard’s dorky ass-kisser of a lapdog, Maggie – the beautiful, sweet and rational one of the group, and Steve – the court jester type who isn’t even aware that he’s the court jester type, but takes copious amounts of drugs and says insanely funny shit.

En route to the luxury lodge, their bus is stopped due to a large tree blocking the road. After Richard gets into a heated argument with the bus driver, the group is left walking. They finally come upon a dump of a lodge but assume that it must be the place because it’s the only lodge on the map. While searching for the generator, Harris comes across filing cabinets filled to the brim with folders containing files of Serbian and various other militants. This sparks a dinner conversation about conspiracy theories revolving around the Palisades weapons company. A few characters each tell their own version of the story which is acted out wonderfully on screen in a variety of ways (i.e. silent film era style) but the story that has the closest bit of truth to it is Jill’s. According to her, after the Cold War was over, the area where they are staying was used to hold soldiers who enjoyed killing a little too much. Palisade provided gas and weapons to kill the soldiers who were “incurable”. Some escaped and are rumored to now be survivalists seeking revenge on Palisade for supplying the weapons that were used during the massacre. Then again, these are all just rumors, right? Perhaps. But when both a figurative and literal bear trap of carnage snaps shut on the team, they have to band together and prove that this weapons company means business.

I try not to divulge too much information about the plot because the story and build ups are so original that they have to be seen to be believed. The UK has produced some excellent horror in the past few years, namely “Shaun of the Dead.” Though “Severance” is far more primal and realistic than “Shaun”, its brilliant tongue and cheek humor keeps the two neck and neck and I mean every word of that. I’m a huge fan of “Shaun” but I can promise you that as many times as I have watched it, I’ve watched “Severance” double that amount.

The acting is brilliant, the characters are extremely believable and I found it hard to actually hate any of the characters which is a rarity in horror these days. Even Gordon, the suck-up assistant, becomes an integral part in the heart of this movie. The special effects are top notch and I guarantee you will never see a better severed leg than the one in this movie. Director Smith, who co-wrote the film, is a genius in his field. His first horror effort, 2004’s “Creep”, was a straight up horror film that was so intense and inventive, I’ve had trouble watching many horror films afterwards and not thinking they borrowed from it. Even “The Descent”, which I’m a huge fan of, has many similarities to “Creep” and its villain.

Thrown into the film is some obvious social commentary regarding warfare and weapons companies. One of the best lines in the film occurs when Richard attempts to defend the rumors surrounding the company. “Members of both our governments are on the board. They’re not going to do anything immoral!” Along with hilarious dialogue as such, there’s the insanely hilarious “rocket launcher” scene which I will dare not spoil for you viewers out there. Surprisingly, with all of this goodness stuffed into the film, my favorite aspect was how touching the film could be at times. This isn’t a horror movie where they throw us a pack of assholes who we want to see mauled to death. I gave a shit about every character and for once, I didn’t want to see a single person die in a horror film. Alas not everyone can make it out alive. But their deaths, though gruesome and sometimes hilarious, are handled with elegance and care and I felt my heart sink a notch every time.

Though I know Christopher Smith will probably not stay in horror forever, I can only pray he doesn’t forget about it. Anything he releases will have the Midas touch to it, but in an age where horror directors just don’t get it anymore, it’s amazing to see someone who understands what true horror is — bad things happening to good people.

Andrew’s Hidden Message: Creativity and care are the true weapons of filmmaking.

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~ by exploitnation on May 29, 2008.

11 Responses to “Severance”

  1. As good as “Severance” is, I still gotta go with “Creep”. It is one of the best, most intense horror films of recent years. When I first watched “Severance”, I think I was a little bit put off by the sense of humor that permeated it. I really liked it but thought it wasn´t as good as Christopher Smith´s directorial debut. I will however agree with you that he does indeed possess some kind of Midas touch. I remember listening to his director´s commentary for “Creep” and he is a real horror fan, which bodes well for the future. I don´t think that he´ll stray too far from the horror genre, which is good for us.
    Now, let´s see that “Creep” review I know you got there somewhere, Andrew…

  2. OoOH Laura Harris is in it! I didn’t realize! I loved her in the faucilty

  3. The faculty is highly underrated.
    -Chuck Brown

  4. I agree – I love the scene where Josh Hartnett uses a paper cutter implement and slices off a teacher’s fingers! way cool….

  5. that teacher just happened to be Jon Stewart.

  6. Stop schooling me! K and that is even better – I totally forgot it was Jon Stewart who is a freaking genius.

  7. i can afterschool you if you’d like, as well.

    see me after class.

  8. The prase “teacher´s pet” never held so much horror as it does now.

  9. teacher’s heavy pet.

    ughhhhhhh it’s fucking 6am. suppose i should go to bed now. i was gonna go see The Strangers at 12pm but fuck it.

  10. For a minute there I thought you were gonna fuck the strangers at 12pm but now I get it…
    The Strangers seems like a pretty good flick though. Let us know how it was when you´re done fucking it.

  11. K ————— I so wanted the frumpy annoying nerdy chic to get mauled. Her death was a lil too intense, even for her.

    But man does that movie have layers! talk about an onion movie.

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