Saturday, August 29, 2009

Movie Review: Severance

Severence is dark British horror/comedy about an office off-site trip that went horribly wrong. Given the simple but deliciously punny title I had high hopes for the movie. I'm pleased to report that those expectations were well-exceeded.

One thing I didn't anticipate was just how funny this movie would be. It spends its opening act introducing its cast of characters in something closer to The Office than any sort of horror movie and has quite a few laughs to go along with it. The cast was stereotypical, but in a good way. You have the slightly incompetent boss, the rebel/slacker, the player, the liberal/hippie girl, the hot chick, the token black guy, and the hopeless brown-noser. They go on a trip, hilarity ensues, and then terrible things happen, which are still hilarious.

What I enjoyed about (most) of the movie was that the characters generally maintained a fairly level head. It was rare that I found myself yelling "No, you idiot, don't go upstairs!!", which was nice. The scary/gory elements of the movie were pretty par. I won't spoil anything about who the bad guy/gal is, but it's not a movie that's full of plot twists and double-crosses - you're aware of the villain pretty early on and you track the non-villains' attempts to survive. There are some tense moments, a few jumps (though not many), and some gore (though not nearly as gory as some horror movies - I think it hit a happy medium of appropriate but not over-the-top). Really, fairly standard fair for a scary movie.

What elevated this to a really enjoyable movie though was the humor. I found myself laughing harder and perceived it as more often (though I imagine part of that is contrast with the scary parts) with this movie than with many comedies (including the previously-reviewed Pineapple Express and Darwin Awards). Granted, the style of comedy is not for everyone. If you didn't think Fight Club was hysterically funny you probably won't like this type of humor either - it is exceedingly dark. For me, this was comic gold. It caught me off guard and had me hooked throughout. Now, it's not all fun and games. Somewhat like Shaun of the Dead, there are some legitimately serious parts of the movie, but if you're looking for a nice combination of pitch-black comedy and horror movie you can't do much better than Severance. I think I'll go out on a limb (and against IMDB and Metacritic's mid-6 reviews) and give this one a solid 8/10. Might not be for everyone, but I loved it thoroughly. (Did I go overboard on the parentheticals today? (Yes)).

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