Severance pays off

Horror comedies rarely work. You cannot expect audiences to feel two such conflicting emotions simultaneously while watching a film, that would take a work of genius... like Severance.

Wes Craven managed a decent horror comedy with Scream, while Peter Jackson's Braindead was equally successful. However, whilst the former achieves this by satirising horror and the latter by being downright weird, Severance manages to be both very funny and very scary in equal measures, often at the same time. Hit the jump to find out how this miracle was achieved:

A British film with the US market in mind - hence the inclusion of an American heroine - this is a prime example of the English taking an American concept and doing it better, due to our talent at underplayed character humour.

Severance succeeds at horror comedy where other films have failed by being both intensely scary and bloody hilarious in equal turns, switching between the two with ease, then dropping you right into an unexpected moment of pathos. It does this by starting off as a dry comedy with lovable, real characters who you actually care about when they start getting chopped into bits. Imagine if Jason Voorhees suddenly burst onto the set of The Office and left the cast running for their lives.

The film opens with a sitcom-style gang of office drones on a weekend team-building holiday in Hungary. The office wideboy has brought a load of drugs and booked hookers, the office swots are trying too hard and everyone's cracking on to the office hottie. It all goes awry when their coach driver gets spooked and kicks them all off the bus, leaving them alone in the woods with a group of ex-Soviet soldiers who've gone feral.

Gore ensues, but it is the kind of functional, British gore we can approve of, none of this over-the-top, for-the-sake-of-it American nonsense. Put simply, you feel the director winced, kept a stiff upper lip and suggested they take out three drops of blood as that was a smidge too much; instead of taking the dailies back to his trailer for a bit of alone time (Eli Roth, we're looking at you).

Of course, the film courted controversy when a deeply-sick individual tried to recreate one of the death scenes. Yet, again, the horror here serves the story, not vice versa, and said mental person was just as likely to recreate Saw or Hostel, which are far more blood thirsty than Severance.

Indeed, the film is almost unique amongst horrors as the audience is always firmly on the office workers' side; even the moronic or distasteful ones. Many of them achieve victory and redemption even in death. We're cheering for the victims here, not the maniacs.

Many might be put off Severance by the presence of dreaded cockney Danny Dyer, but here he is at his most lovable and by the end you may even come close to not detesting him... almost. Elsewhere, we have Blackadder's Captain Darling himself, Tim McInnerny and Laura Harris, the under-dressed alien invader from The Faculty.

Every time I watch Severance, I'm struck by how skilfully it's done and how effortlessly it succeeds in a genre so often handled ham-fistedly. If this is what the British can achieve, why do we rely on Hollywood again?

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