Severance (U.K., 2006) * * *
D: Christopher Smith
Halloween is my favorite holiday, and October my favorite month. It's a special time of year, when little children dress up as blood-drenched psychopaths and their parents smile on approvingly. Alas, October is only 31 days long (although the retail chains might make you think otherwise), so to make the most of the holiday this year I'm making sure to celebrate every single day, on this blog, in my own small, obsessive, patently pathetic way. But first: a horror film! A new one! Severance played as one of the midnight movies in last year's Wisconsin Film Festival, and I came THIS CLOSE to seeing it (indicating very close); I believe it was between this and El Topo, ultimately, and the choice for me was obvious. But it's a shame I missed seeing this British comedy-thriller on the big screen, because it seems obvious on a home viewing that it would play well with a beery crowd. Employees of a weapons manufacturing company head off into the dark forest of Eastern Europe for some empty-headed "team-building" exercises (including paintball). Instead they run into a group of bloodthirsty survivalists who begin picking the team off one by one. I often heard this described as a comedy, but make no mistake that it is a horror film, Hostel-style torture scenes intact. There's also violent attempted rape and a vivid immolation scene. It is a horror film and a tense one--but it also finds moments of irreverent character observation, and one of the most strangely delightful resolutions to a decapitation you're ever likely to see. It's whimsical, shall we say. It's a whimsical decapitation scene.