Thursday, September 27, 2007


I think we can all thank the British by this point for ensuring there is a good amount of gallows humor infesting our horror movies. Sure, we’ve gotten the occasional horror comedy here in the U.S. (usually involving zombies or mediocre efforts to make children’s movies out of classic horror monsters), but I think that, after giving us decades of the likes of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Donald Pleasence hamming things up in their search for new graves to despoil or new victims to kill, the Brits have more than shown their overall mastery of this particular genre blend. Hell, they even gave us what is by far the best horror comedy of this decade in Shaun of the Dead, all of which, I guess, is my needlessly long-winded way of saying that I really enjoyed Severance.

Sort of a blend between The Office and a slasher movie, it concerns a group of employees of a British weapons manufacturer traveling deep into the woods of Hungary on a company retreat to promote teamwork or whatever the hell people do at those awful things. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and when the main road is oddly blocked off, they naturally decide to ignore the advice of a local and travel down an alternate road, a time honored tradition in movies, horror and otherwise, that has never once, in the history of cinema, merely turned out to be a shortcut with a pleasing view.

I’m delving too much into plot here, I know, and not doing a proper job explaining why the film is so good. A lot of it has to do with the dry British humor infesting the film. I wasn’t lying when I said it felt a lot like the cast of the Office being thrown into a horror movie (maybe not the specific cast, but certainly people fairly similar to them), and their British stiff-upper-lip-ness when they find what is clearly the wrong lodge out in the woods and attempt to make the most of things is delightful. The murders, when they begin, are just as funny, as when an early discussion on the guillotine and Marie Antoinette being able to live long enough to see her own headless body at her execution pays off an early death, or when a character loses his leg to a bear trap, and they decide to keep it cold by stuffing it in the mini-fridge on their bus, or how what appears to be just obligatory throwaway deaths at the beginning actually pays off at the climax, or…but I could go on like this for a while.

If it’s not quite as amusing as Edgar Wright’s films, then it’s still very good, and you should definitely check it out. It manages to achieve that tricky blend of when to go for humor and when to go for horror that most horror comedies don’t quite manage, and when to just go for broke on both. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it’s certainly better than the bulk of the movies out there. Go check it out.

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