Take the Americanized Office television show, make it British again and change their paper company to a military defense company like Northrop Grumman, but more accessible and friendly. Send the group of them into the woods to a run-down military asylum where they are hunted like animals by blood-thirsty psychos, and you have the rip-roaring horror comedy that is Severance.
Well-made horror comedies are a rare find. When I say well-made, I don’t mean that there aren’t quite a few horror movies out there that have giddily funny moments. Movies like The Toxic Avenger may blur the line, but they rely more on camp than a purer comedic element. I think it has to do with believability. There are some horror movies that find comedy in how a normal person would react to an abnormal situation. Shaun of the Dead excelled in this to a great length. Scenes such as his zombified step-father going crazy until he could turn off the radio are classic in my eyes. Although in the movie the zombies may not be too believable, Shaun’s obliviousness to the situation, and finally his reaction, seem plausible, and only slightly exaggerated at times.
Enter Severance. The movie works much like Shaun of the Dead, and this is without reading other reviews which say the same damn thing without explaining why. It’s true. The oblivious nature of the corporate employees of international weapons creator Palisade Defense is shown at the beginning, while they are all on a bus heading to their supposed safe destination at a “luxury lodge.” It’s a believable premise, complete with a tight-lipped staff manager (played by Tim McInnerny), a stoned-out techie(played by Danny Dyer), an anti-war hippie-type (played by Claudie Blakly), and a loveable, fat goon (played by Andy Nyman), among the rest of a stellar cast.
When their bus driver kicks them off the bus in front of a road not entirely on the beaten path, the crew decide to walk in the hope of finding their destination. What they find is a run-down building that could only be the corporate lodge if their company were instigating this trip during these economic times. While exploring, they come upon paperwork linking their company to Russian military activity and soldier dossiers. With this information they concoct elaborate camp-fire like tales of what went on in the building, the most comical belonging to Danny Dyer.
After the sighting of a peeping tom at a window, in the middle of this supposedly lifeless forest, the gang investigates a way to get the hell back to civilization, and are instead attacked by human-sized pygmies with guns, and fun times are had by all.
Some of the great scenes in this movie, without giving too much away:
-human meat pies
-a happy anecdote about human heads remaining conscious for a time after being severed from their body, with a morbid punch-line
-a rocket launcher gone awry
-Danny Dyer saying, “This is gonna hurt.”
-Hot half-naked Scandinavian prostitutes with assault rifles
I give this move 4 out of 5 Copy Machines that work, and that’s saying a lot, considering the office genre this movie hails from.