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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/08/2006

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Enjoyable, darkly funny horror flick with strong performances, a sharply written script and some effectively nasty moments.

What's it all about?
When seven employees of international weapons manufacturers, Palisade Defence, embark on a corporate bonding weekend in Hungary they get more than they bargained for when an unseen assailant begins picking them off in suitably gory fashion.

The employees include yes-man manager Richard (Tim McInnery), crass joker Steve (Danny Dyer), conflicted pacifist Jill (Claudie Blakeley), token American Maggie (Laura Harris) and cynical salesman Harris (Toby Stephens). Will the threat to their lives prove the ultimate in team-bonding exercises or will office rivalries get the better of them?

The Good
Severance is the second feature from co-writer and director Christopher Smith, who made 2004's underground shocker Creep. He describes the film as The Office meets Deliverance and as such, he gets the tone exactly right, balancing some genuinely nasty and shocking scenes (such as the apparently obligatory mantrap sequence – see also Wilderness) with moments of black humour.

The inventive premise is ripe with comic potential and the characters are instantly familiar without feeling like stereotypes. Smith also includes some amusingly off the wall fantasy sequences as well as some memorably disturbing visuals (a foot in a freezer, a tooth in a pie, etc).

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that it veers dangerously close to the sort of sado-horror that seems to be all the rage these days (Hostel, Wilderness etc), which might be off-putting to some viewers. Similarly, although Danny Dyer's character is hilarious throughout, he's allowed to dominate the film, meaning that some of the other characters aren't given enough room to develop as a result.

Worth seeing?
Severance pretty much lives up to its The Office meets Deliverance promise, delivering darkly comic laughs and moments of grisly horror in equal measure. Not for everyone but well made and a lot of fun if you like that sort of thing.

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Content updated: 25/01/2020 18:57

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