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"Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

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"Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Old 09-23-13, 01:14 AM
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"Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12





Severance (2006)



Selected by alyxstarr



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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

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Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags are unnecessary in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
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Last edited by Chad; 09-27-13 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 10-11-13, 02:38 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

The mash-up of workplace comedy and horror genres in Severance always felt to me like a poorly executed misfire of a genius idea. The characters don't have a lot of "chemistry" and feel cliché (maybe this is intentional to over-exaggerate stereotypes but it backfires in being too shallow). A paintball work retreat doesn’t seem plausible but it’s cute how they obliviously walk around obliviously stumbling on horror elements. While the political subtext is nice, it doesn't help that that these people work for some oddball defense company so far removed from anything reasonable. So much of the film feels artifical and wasted on slim character interactions. – like the two co-workers who just happen to debate how long a severed head would remain alive only for that to happen.

Some comedy "skits" are really clever. Like the intro that is taken from mid-film with the girls disrobing to try to make a rope (I really liked inserted middle segment into the start and refering to it again later) or the irony of a worker unknowingly urinating on a buried corpse. The faux silent movie interlude was fun. It's great how smutty some of the characters are - wanting to leave behind their wounded peer, relentlessly killing guy stuck in floor. The last 30 minutes really picked up and are a lot more brutal and it's a fun exaggerated cat and mouse chase segment. I love the pie with the tooth in it, maybe there’s some of the subtlety with Severance that just goes over my head.
Originally Posted by IMDB Trivia
According to writer James Moran and director Christopher Smith, the film is full of references to classic movies. [They cite 2001, Dr Strangelove, White, and Faster Pussycat Kill Kill examples]
Botched (2007) is a good movie that makes me think of what Severance could have been.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-11-13 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 10-12-13, 07:19 AM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

This was nice re-visit for me. First saw this as a Midnight Madness selection at TIFF nearly a decade ago when this stood nicely apart from some of the harder edged horror with a nice degree of humor. Some of the f/x and gags haven't aged as well, but nothing beats getting out of a hole with some lovely women's undies. Priceless.
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Old 10-12-13, 04:42 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Severance is one of the pleasant surprises of this year's challenge for me. I enjoyed it a LOT more than I expected to. The gag involving the bus refrigerator had me in tears due to laughing so hard, yet the comedy never got in the way of the horror and vice-versa. I thought that the film walked that fine line very well.
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Old 10-12-13, 08:51 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Severance has some really redeemable moments that are countered by some really absurd plot mechanics. How they ended up at "the lodge", or how they are in a spot suddenly full of clearly visible bear traps, or how the bus is suddenly at warp speed with the flat tires causing it to flip out of control so they can't escape (YET AGAIN), just about had me fast forwarding some times.

As Undeadcow mentioned, the mash up of true horror and horror comedy don't really jive for me either. When you mix oil and water, you get.... oil and water. It could have been a cool Gymkata horror take, or some kind of Army of Darkness angle, but they don't belong together. It's like watching Friday the 13th mashed with Jason takes Manhattan.

But Severance is STILL worth a RENT.
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Old 10-12-13, 10:20 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
The gag involving the bus refrigerator had me in tears due to laughing so hard
That was funny. I also liked when the decapitated guy smiled when he realized he was right, and the truly dark OH CRAP moment when the rocket readjusted and locked on the airliner.
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Old 10-12-13, 10:32 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Originally Posted by cproaps View Post
I also liked when the decapitated guy smiled when he realized he was right.
This was the highlight of the movie for me even if it was pretty predictable that he would have an experience like that. The smile was a nice added touch. Overall, I definitely enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would when I saw Danny Dyer was the star. He was annoying, but somehow it worked in this movie. I am happy this was a subset choice since otherwise I would have never watched it.
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Old 10-12-13, 10:45 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

"Shit! I've left Gordon's foot on the coach.."
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Old 10-12-13, 11:28 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Severance really picks up in the last half, but I always found the ending anti-climatic. I'm sure there were more unaccounted for "killers" but it seems they just dodge the blowtorch guy and call it a day... but maybe it was an implied cliffhanger as part of the humor.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-12-13 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 10-13-13, 12:33 AM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

I forgot to mention the, "A cow with gold fillings?" joke earlier. Too funny.
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Old 10-13-13, 12:50 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

I watched this movie several years ago and didn't remember too much about it. I thought about skipping it but am glad I didn't. I liked it the first time around but ended up loving it this time. The humor is great and had me laughing out loud most of the time. It never seemed forced to me and the characters were well cast. Nice amounts of gore with a thin plot, but the pacing is so effective that the plot didn't bother me. Yeah, the airplane was a stretch but that was the only part that made me roll my eyes. I found the stoner guy to be hilarious.

My rating: ****1/2 out of *****
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Old 10-13-13, 02:11 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Originally Posted by cproaps View Post
...the truly dark OH CRAP moment when the rocket readjusted and locked on the airliner.
That moment and the "HELP!!" phonecall getting put on hold were two of my favourite moments. Not least because, ironically given their obvious unlikelihood, they seemed so much more realistic than what would 'normally' happen in a film setting. Obviously a heat-seeking missile would not be likely to pick out a single figure; and it's equally likely that a panicked phonecall to "someone" would not have a swift or useful outcome. Great humour, but with more subtle undertones.

I was mostly happy to see Blackadder's Tim McInnerny in something.. and had I seen Mr Dyer's name rather than his face (since I've read about him before), I might have been wary. But since his character was easily the best, and he did such a great job, I might even seek out more of his work..!
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Old 10-13-13, 02:25 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
The mash-up of workplace comedy and horror genres in Severance always felt to me like a poorly executed misfire of a genius idea.
I agree with that last part - "genius idea" - and disagree with the rest! I think it's perfectly well executed for what it is.

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
The characters don't have a lot of "chemistry" and feel cliché (maybe this is intentional to over-exaggerate stereotypes but it backfires in being too shallow). A paintball work retreat doesn’t seem plausible...
All of those elements contributed to what made it work for me: it seems (as far as it goes) "REAL". Point A: Work colleagues rarely have much chemistry, and by and large really do not - should not - spend much time together, as they have nothing in common bar their job. Point B: I think you're right that the stereotypes are deliberate - again, I think most people can select past-or-present work colleagues that do adhere strictly to (those) stereotypes..!

And I've never understood the purported benefit or point of paintball as a "team building" exercise. It's not like work (unless you're in the army, I suppose), it's all about violence (maybe an attempt at letting off steam..?) and generally you're pitting colleagues against each other..! How is that building better bonds?! By shooting each other..!

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
...but it’s cute how they obliviously walk around obliviously stumbling on horror elements.
I had hoped to re-watch Tucker and Dale vs. Evil this year, but it probably won't wind up happening sadly, but that was the comedic element there that made that such a standout for me last year: the utter obliviousness and "lampshade hanging" of the tropes.

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
While the political subtext is nice, it doesn't help that that these people work for some oddball defense company so far removed from anything reasonable. So much of the film feels artifical and wasted on slim character interactions. – like the two co-workers who just happen to debate how long a severed head would remain alive only for that to happen.
Which is a trope that never happens in other films..! How often do off-hand comments in most films - especially horror - NOT turn out to be 'surprisingly' prescient seconds/minutes/scenes later...?!

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
Some comedy "skits" are really clever. Like the intro that is taken from mid-film with the girls disrobing to try to make a rope (I really liked inserted middle segment into the start and refering to it again later) or the irony of a worker unknowingly urinating on a buried corpse. The faux silent movie interlude was fun.
I do like weird silent interludes, too. And that whole section of different characters narrating campfire stories with varying degrees of plausibility, pertinence and flippancy was again, both genre-lampooning AND accurate. I know I've been in places where people will be challenged to do one thing (recount an accurate story about a horrific event) and decide instead to make a smutty joke...

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
It's great how smutty some of the characters are - wanting to leave behind their wounded peer, relentlessly killing guy stuck in floor.
Again, genre-spoofing and REAL. What did Maggie say? Something like "I don't want to be blamed later on for NOT killing him..." And then the very next scene, confronted with a dozen of them, really adds to that meta-/real- theme: you would do that, particularly if a) you've ever seen a horror film, and b) you work for an 'evil' company. But then the necessity and the usefulness is immediately undercut in the most realistic way possible: he wasn't alone, and you're still screwed.

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
I love the pie with the tooth in it, maybe there’s some of the subtlety with Severance that just goes over my head.
I suspect there's a particularly English element to some of the humour, which may or may not make it less funny or believable (or whatever) - the pie aftermath - the "well, I did cook it for an hour/did they leave instructions?!/you don't cook EVERY pie for an hour!" exchanges - had me in fits of laughter. It's so spot on.

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
Botched (2007) is a good movie that makes me think of what Severance could have been.
I shall have to look that out!
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Old 10-14-13, 10:43 AM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Originally Posted by ntnon View Post
And I've never understood the purported benefit or point of paintball as a "team building" exercise. It's not like work (unless you're in the army, I suppose), it's all about violence... you work for an 'evil' company
Maybe this was subtle irony, the point could be these quasi-militant fetishists working for an arms company and exploiting destruction (actively or just passively by selling weapons) find themselves the targets of mindless violence. Also the "arms dealers" seem to work on a scale removed from actual killing then suddenly find themselves face to face with killers (mostly using primitive weapons) unable to defend themselves. The more I think about it, the weapons company set-up is a brilliant element of the comedy. The introduction features the head quivering and running frantically then cuts to him selling "defense" and weaponry in a confident and cool manner.
Originally Posted by ntnon View Post
How often do off-hand comments in most films - especially horror - NOT turn out to be 'surprisingly' prescient seconds/minutes/scenes later...?!
I agree... but this bit would have been better executed if it was more convincing that the co-workers were naturally discussing the biology of decapitation. The preliminary conversation seemed so far removed from plausible discussion that it could only have been a forced set-up for later events.
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Old 10-14-13, 11:10 AM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Did they ever explain why these people were being hunted down and killed? I seemed to completely miss that.

And what was with the man who was dressed as a woman, who was that? Why did he try to seduce Richard? Was that a dream? Did Richard really murder somebody before all of the craziness?
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Old 10-15-13, 09:01 AM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
Maybe [the paintball] was subtle irony...
Here, yes, I agree. But generally... why is paintball supposed to be a "team building" exercise..?

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
...the point could be these quasi-militant fetishists working for an arms company and exploiting destruction (actively or just passively by selling weapons) find themselves the targets of mindless violence. Also the "arms dealers" seem to work on a scale removed from actual killing then suddenly find themselves face to face with killers (mostly using primitive weapons) unable to defend themselves. The more I think about it, the weapons company set-up is a brilliant element of the comedy.
Very much so. It really serves to undercut and parallel and whatnot. Theory vs. reality, distance vs. closeness...

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
The introduction features the head quivering and running frantically then cuts to him selling "defense" and weaponry in a confident and cool manner.
Also the chap who just happens to have a rocket launcher in his house "just in case"... he wasn't even in America!


Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
I agree... but this bit would have been better executed if it was more convincing that the co-workers were naturally discussing the biology of decapitation. The preliminary conversation seemed so far removed from plausible discussion that it could only have been a forced set-up for later events.
Oh, quite! Again, the rhetorical question: when are such foreshadowing moments (in horror films) ever "convincing" or "plausible"..?!
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Old 10-15-13, 09:03 AM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Did they ever explain why these people were being hunted down and killed? I seemed to completely miss that.
I think it was something-something people have a grudge against the arms dealers. Maybe one of the stories they told about why there was a grudge was real?

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
And what was with the man who was dressed as a woman, who was that? Why did he try to seduce Richard? Was that a dream? Did Richard really murder somebody before all of the craziness?
My impression was that it was the snarky one deliberately undermining McInnerny's leadership. And since he was alive later on, I assume it was a dream.
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Old 10-15-13, 09:41 AM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
And what was with the man who was dressed as a woman, who was that? Why did he try to seduce Richard? Was that a dream? Did Richard really murder somebody before all of the craziness?
I understood this to be a psychosexual fantasy/dream highlighting ambivilance about workplace dynamics, sexuality, and violence from Richard that builds upon some of the subtext but also this dream/fantasy element seems so under-developed it's confusing and only seems to help the pacing with a quit shocking skit.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-15-13 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 10-19-13, 04:14 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

I agree with a lot of the complaints above, and think that on a different day I could have really hated it and echoed all of the above and even harsher thoughts.

And maybe it's just me, but I feel like most opinions and criticism, especially on things like film, are extremely variable depending on our circumstances, mood, and mental state at the time of viewing.

The other day I was in the 'mood' to forgive the contrivances and really enjoy it.
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Old 10-20-13, 07:37 PM
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Re: "Severance" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 12

Originally Posted by ntnon View Post
Also the chap who just happens to have a rocket launcher in his house "just in case"... he wasn't even in America!
The guy with the rocket launcher was another co-worker there for the weekend retreat (he drove himself and found the correct "lodge," and the two hookers). I think he "just happened" to have the rocket launcher with him because he was going to try it out in the woods.

I really liked this movie, and felt it did a great job balancing the horror and humor.
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