Archive for October 1st, 2009

01
Oct
09

Halloween Party: Severance

Severance (2006)Well friends, here we are. It’s October 1, the air is probably turning crisp, the leaves are probably changing colors (wherever you live, that is — here in southern Louisiana the temperature has finally lowered itself to “almost comfortable”), and the month-long Evertime Realms Halloween Party has begun! One of the main features of the party, of course, are my movie reviews. Throughout September and October I flood my Netflix account with horror and monster movies, and now I’ll be hitting you up with reviews. First up, let’s look at a dandy little horror film from 2006:

The slasher film is a time-tested subgenre of horror. Some of the greatest horror movies ever made have been slasher flicks – and, of course, so have many of the worst. But since the slasher really rose to prominence in the 80s, it seems like virtually everything that can be done with the slasher has been done. The 2006 film Severance may not be a masterpiece of horror, but it is a genuine attempt at doing something new with the slasher movie, and if nothing else, I respect it for that.

In Severance, we watch as a group of British office drones drive deep into Eastern Europe for the sort of generic “team-building” retreat that faceless companies so often think will bond their workers into a cohesive unit. A bus mishap leaves them stranded without their driver, and when they march off to the wrong lodge, they soon find themselves the targets of a mad murderer roaming the woods.

The first half of the movie is actually very funny. Although it feels like the set-up for a horror film, there’s a lot of laughs, mocking the stupid corporate atmosphere and several conventions of the genre. Once the first trap is sprung (literally), however, things get pretty serious pretty quick. The action is solid, and the characters are much smarter than most horror movie victims. Laura Harris’s character in particular seems to be fully aware of the stupid mistakes most slasher victims make that get them killed, and she refuses to make them. That in and of itself is pretty refreshing, but it gets even better when the movie winks back at her and starts throwing new obstacles that aren’t your typical slasher movie fare.

The biggest flaw with the movie is really in the rest of the characters. Harris is strong, but the rest of them, even when they’re being smart, are really fitting into pretty standard roles. Not horror movie roles, per se, but office comedy clichés, and they never really grow beyond their opening station.

The movie was made on a pretty low budget, and it shows, but that’s not really a big deal. The rustic atmosphere fits the story, the gore effects are good enough, and the script – by James Moran and director Christopher Smith – is way more intelligent than you’re used to. It isn’t the best horror movie ever made, but it’s one of the better new slasher flicks in quite some time, and folks tired of the same old thing could do worse than to give this one a try.

For articles and reviews from previous years, check out the Halloween Party Archive!




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