Billed as “The Office meets Deliverance” - although more like Hostel crossed with Shaun of the Dead for our money - Severance is a surprisingly entertaining British comedy-horror.
Seven colleagues (led by Danny Dyer’s “Steve” who boasts “I’ve only ever taken two things seriously in my life: ecstasy and weed”) set out on a team-building weekend in Eastern Europe expecting a spot of paint-balling, some late night boozing, and possibly a bit of slap and tickle with the office secretary if all goes to plan.
What they don’t bargain for however, is being set upon by a gang of in-bred Hungarian locals armed to the teeth with Uzis, machetes and abhorrent levels of personal hygiene.
Writer/director Christopher Smith, best known for the 2004 horror “Creep” - featuring a genetically mutated killer called Craig (!?) lurking in London’s underground - has created a strange little film that attempts to combine side-splitting humour and skull-splitting violence…with mixed results.
Straight from the off there are some neat gags about political correctness in the workplace, and the idiocy of management mumbo jumbo such as: “I can’t spell success without, u … and u and u”.
There’s plenty of fun to be had on this extensive extras package, including an enjoyable commentary featuring everyone from director Christopher Smith to writer James Moran, via production designer John Frankish and four members of the virtually all-Brit cast.
Smith also lends his voice to eight deleted scenes although, as is normally the case, these unwanted cuts add little to the final product and you are unable to watch them without the voiceover.
As well as a half-hour “Making Of” featurette starring Smith and his cast stumbling about the Hungarian woodland, there are also outtakes, a hidden “Easter Egg” featuring the naked Hungarian girls, and an amusing mock corporate video for Palisades Defence.
Smith also makes a decent fist of twisting the traditional horror template, making it much more difficult than normal to work out who will be next unlucky sod to meet a grizzly end.
However, dark comic moments - such as the severed leg in the fridge - and witty one-liners like “English birds aren’t complicated, you buy them a Bacardi Breezer and they’ll ride you like Seabiscuit” jar awkwardly with gruesome horror scenes involving decapitation and human sacrifice.
It is also ironic that a film called Severance could do with having at least 10 minutes chopped off the over-long ending.
Staring: Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman, Babou Ceesay
Directed by: Christopher Smith
Extras: Audio commentary, Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary, 'Making Of' featurette 'Not So Special Effects' featurette, 'The Genesis Of Severance' featurette, 'The Coach' featurette, Outtakes, Animatics, Palisade corporate video, Alternative ending storyboard, Easter Egg (hidden feature)