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The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Before we wrap up week three here at the Hell Plaza Oktoberfest, here's a heads-up for you Southern California horror fans. On Saturday, October 20, there's a signing event at Burbank's Dark Delicacies you may want to check out. Dark Delicacies, by the way, is one of the finest horror stores on earth and if you love the genre, you should make a pilgrimage to it at least once in your life. Anyway, tomorrow at 2:00 PM, you can stop by and meet Cerina Vincent of Cabin Fever, who'll be signing copies of Warner's new "navigational cinema" extravaganza Return to House on Haunted Hill, Kelli Maroney, signing copies of MGM's awesome 80s sci-fi zombie flick Night of the Comet, and pick up advance copies of THINKFilm's Gag, directed by my buddy, Scott W. McKinlay. Scooter will be there himself, along with co-stars Amy Wehrell and Gerald Emerick, so go meet the gang and pick up a copy of their movie in advance of its October 23 street date. Tell 'em Jahnke sent you. Visit the Dark Delicacies website for more info. And now, on with our regularly scheduled scare-a-thon.

Severance: Special Edition

Severance: Special Edition
2007 (2007) - Magnolia

If you've ever worked in an office, you've probably had days when you've wanted to see at least a few of your co-workers hacked to pieces by a mask-wearing maniac with a bloody great axe. No shame in that, as long as you don't start dropping by the hardware store on your way home. As long as mass murder remains illegal, however, you can still fulfill some of your yuppie-slashing fantasies with the British horror-comedy Severance.

Seven employees of a defense weapons contractor head out for a team-building weekend at a lodge in a remote area of Eastern Europe. The road is blocked and the team is abandoned by their bus driver. They find what they think is their lodge, only to discover they're being targeted by a madman in the woods. Pretty soon, paintballing takes a back seat to survival.

Severance is a sharp, clever idea for a horror-comedy and I went into it wanting to love it. I was a little disappointed that I didn't. Which isn't to say this is a bad movie. The ensemble cast, including Danny Dyer, Tim McInnerny and Laura Harris (who you may recognize from the second season of 24) is terrific. Director Christopher Smith has an awareness of horror movie conventions (or clichés, if you're feeling less charitable) and has fun undermining them at nearly every turn. When the bodies start to pile up, the fake blood is poured on enthusiastically and James Moran's script holds at least a few genuinely funny moments.

The trouble is that after both the UK and US versions of The Office, the bar has been set very high for this kind of satire. The characters are vividly drawn but there isn't much sense that they're co-workers. This could just as easily be a family reunion or a church outing or anything other than an office excursion. It may be unfair to compare Severance to either version of The Office but it's a comparison it brings on itself. I'm 100% sure that this movie wouldn't exist if not for the success of those programs.

Magnolia's special edition DVD lives up to its name, providing a decent if not spectacular anamorphic transfer and an audio mix that's about at the same level. The bonus features, however, are both plentiful and well-done. You get a group commentary that includes director Smith, writer Moran, actors Danny Dyer, Tim McInnerny, Andy Nyman and Beeban Ceesay and production designer John Frankish. There's a small army of featurettes, including segments on the script, the production, the effects and key sequences. In addition to all this, there are outtakes, a storyboard of the unshot alternate ending, the animatic for the opening sequence, and the entire Palisade corporate video featured in the movie.

I was rooting for Severance to pull it together and live up to its potential all the way up to the end credits. Unfortunately, it's never as funny as it ought to be and certainly not frightening. Still, Severance has enough going for it that I wouldn't be shocked if it picked up a small cult following.

Film Rating: B-
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/A

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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