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Paul Andrew Williams
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Tomius J. Barnard
Not really any spoilers to worry about. Severance is both fun and gruesome!
For the better part of a decade every British comedy or romance was hailed as 'The funniest film since Four Weddings and a Funeral'. Although there are many Brit films made in any year worth a look, only one will truly be mass marketed and labelled as our best export. With Four Weddings' a distant memory, anything remotely amusing or linked with horror is now wrongly compared to Shaun of the Dead (or possibly Dog Soldiers). Poster quotes and lazy comparisons aside, it's nice surprise that for a horror comedy, Severance isn't actually half bad at all.
The plot is nice and simple. A (predominantly English) sales division working for a multinational weapons corporation are sent on a team building exercise in Hungary only to find themselves stuck in a dense forest where they are being hunted by a merciless European gang.
While Severance doesn't do anything particularly wrong, there are of course a couple of faults. Any work environment has to have some pretty unlikeable characters so it's unavoidable to feel less sorry for some when the killings start. Toby Stephens is undoubtedly one of the finest actors around, but he's yet to play a role in a successful film that really does him justice. Utterly capable and ever reliable Tim McInnerny (of legendary Blackadder fame) is amiable enough, but it's Danny Dyer that gets most of the punchy one-liners as the part-druggie, part-chav cheeky chappie he's grown accustomed to playing. Thankfully, cute Laura Harris hasn't been cast as the 'is she or isn't she the villain all along?' as it's really time she ditched that and moved on.
The two distinct genres don't always make for a happy marriage and eventually the tone shifts over to deadpan. At least one line is stolen from elsewhere but there's a couple of shots that felt like homages rather than plagiarism. There's more than enough laughs and nasty moments to fill both audience preferences. The fast pace means Severance doesn't risk outstaying a welcome, the special effects team did a great job and the camera work is suitably snappy. The only real risk is hype as anyone expecting anything other than a night out with a few grim moments and some genuine belly laughs will leave wondering what the fuss is about. Try to avoid thinking about where these guys took their inspiration from too as that wouldn't do anyone any good either. A solid 3 star experience that hopefully has some extra bits come home-entertainment time.
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