Demonstrating a keen British sense for comedic timing, Director Christopher Smith delivers this refreshingly taut, humorous horror film just as a flurry of vapid Hollywood horrors have exited theaters. Not exactly a ten on the scare factor, yet far from parody à la 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, Severance straddles comedy and horror with an intoxicating ease. Factor in a few less laughs than Shaun, and you’ll wind up with Severance.
Seven co-workers from a British global weapons manufacturer’s sales force find themselves in a dilapidated cabin in the Hungarian mountains for a weekend teambuilding retreat. Contained in this classic slasher camp is a surrounding forest occupied by masked maniacs with — yep, lots of weapons. Yet the group’s dopey manager denies danger by taking his team out to play paintball. Part of the fun about Severance is learning that these bad guys have a deep-seeded cause and yet, farther into the story, come off as human and hapless as their victims. Though some of the humor is styled exhaustingly after The Office, Smith offers plenty of twists and fully-realized characters who we actually care about when they die, without being force-fed melodrama.
Opens May 18 at Angelika Film Center