Severance (Smith, 2006. UK)

Severance- headless suit***Minor Spoilers****

Standard splatterstock and largely predictable but with a few proper laughs. It’s almost a corporate Battle Royale, except the initial corporate downsizing storyline was written out and transplanted with a bizarre Revenge of the Hungarian War Criminals backstory. Which is apparently a comment on corporate responsibility and the culpability of the Western Arms Trade. Personally I think it’s just an excuse to kill off suits in varied and increasingly gory fashion while That Twat Danny Dyer blunders about making ‘comic’ lewd comments in his ludicrous mockney drawl. What Laura Harris Laura Harris stares pensively from windowcould possibly see in him is unfathomable. The male directors’ Wish Fulfilment Rule again. You know the one where no matter how old/aesthetically repellent/ socially incompetent you may be, the beautiful, intelligent and well-adjusted woman will fall for you, just because you’re the main character. Just like in life. Harris is a likeable actress and usually worth a watch, however her purpose here appears to be chiefly to act as an object of lust for the various derisible or simple two dimensional male characters.

The original pitch for the film, like the title pun, seems to me a blacker and more comedic premise; the final result just seems improbable (rather than a joke or metaphor) and a wee bit preachy. That’s not to say there aren’t laughs to be had in Severance (cf. The Pie. You’ll know what I mean), though probably the funniest moment in the film is that cracking clip you’ll remember form the trailer where Dyer struggles to fit a severed leg into a mini-fridge. I think it would make a perfectly acceptable showing in a three film splatstick lineup with some friends. There is a trace of our trademark British irony, though not nearly so much as I’d like. Ultimately though, it has nothing to add to the Brit Flick cannon.

I think it is both an indictment of a filmmaking enterprise and a clear demonstration of what happens when circumstances result in an end product which falls far short of intention when the DVD extras by far outshine the feature. I’d say they’re worth the rental tax alone though; the spinner comes with a respectable package, including Easter egg, a hugely entertaining piss-take featurette about the stunts and SFX and some deleted scenes that actually add something to the viewing experience (no really.) One of the most entertaining scenes in the film, also one of the more technically accomplished, was left on the cutting room floor, to the director’s regret.

One of my favourite behind-the-scenes quotes of all time has to be director Christopher Smith commenting on a gore effect which isn’t going to plan:

“This film’s supposed to be an orgy of violence. [Pause] It’s a wank.”

Hahaha. Sums up the film and the freebies pretty aptly to be honest. The little doc on the barmy Eastern European stunt men is hilarious. They seem to be completely oblivious to the disbelieving hilarity they leave in their anarchic wake. They should have been in the film frankly- I enjoyed them far more than Ginger, Specs and Jackups, or whatever the thinly-written supporting characters were called*. I’d even recommend working your way through the three menu pages of extras first (I admit I didn’t watch the Dyer doc- I just couldn’t bring myself to care frankly), they’ll give away the ending, but probably make the film funnier in the process.

Four out ten, with four star extras.

* As an aside, also very enjoyable mildly diverting are these character names from the IMDb listing:

Flamethrower Killer

Head-squish Killer

Headbutt Killer

Free scratch card to the reader with the best suggestion for who should come next in the list


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