Saturday, February 10, 2007


For starter's forget the press- this film is in no way, shape or form anything at all like Shaun of the Dead. Yeah, it does have some gruesome effects but it's not witty or humorous at all. It certainly thinks it is but I laughed once the entire film. And it was much more of a chuckle than a belly laugh. Simon Pegg and Co. could have turned this into a genuinely good horror-comedy but sadly they weren't involved.

The biggest problem with Severance is that the film-makers seem to have a very high opinion of themselves. They're trying to make a hip horror-comedy but they fail on all counts. It's not funny and it's not scary. And that is the biggest problem- gory effects do not a horror film make.

Which is a shame because the concept was certainly worthy. A group of executives for an arms manufacturer are on a tour of Eastern Europe and their boss arranges for them to go to a retreat for a team building exercise. Once there they begin to be terrorised by the local psychopaths. There's some back-story which makes their business vaguely relevant but it fails to hit the target; it's not at all clear that the psychos wouldn't have targeted them if they'd worked for a team of accountants or a supermarket. It gives us a little insight into who the psychos are but it doesn't add anything to the plot. They could just have well have stopped at some cafe and be given warnings not to go into the woods by a local. The net effect would have been the same.

Another criticism I have is of one of the character's drug taking. It serves no purpose whatsoever- perhaps the writer's thought it made him edgy and cool? In any event it's hard to buy that executives for a arms manufacturer would be fine with some junior member of their team getting very publicly off his face on a company trip. Have these guys ever had any contact with a real-world corporation? It's just ridiculous and, again, serves no real function in the film.

As for the horror elements...well, there aren't any. There's very little sense of danger, no feeling of fear. The film goes from being not funny to essentially a chase movie. One entirely lacking in any kind of tension- it couldn't even be called a thriller. Perhaps it's the fact that the characters aren't that well developed but there was no real involvement in watching the film unfold. Bad guys chase good guys and slaughter them in not very novel ways. Blah, blah, blah.

Severance is, at best, watchable. If you have nothing better to do with your time and you can't get your hands on a Wilderness DVD for example. Perhaps if you go into it with low expectations you'll enjoy it more, but if you're expecting another Shaun of the Dead, forget it. This film is not even in the same league, which is a shame because it could have been really good. The source material was there but it was just handled badly. I blame the writers- Christopher Smith's last movie (Creep) tended towards the unoriginal too. Review of that here.

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