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Film Description
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Film Title:

Director: Christopher Smith
Country: United Kingdom
Year: 2006
Language: English
Time: 90 minutes
Film Types: Colour/35mm

Thursday, September 14    11:59 PM    RYERSON  Buy tickets now
Saturday, September 16    3:30 PM    PARAMOUNT 2  Buy tickets now

Production Company : Dan Films 
Canadian Distribution : Christal Films Distribution 
US Distribution : Magnolia Pictures 
Foreign Sales Agent : HanWay Films 

Executive Producer: Michael Kuhn
Producer: Jason Newmark
Screenplay: James Moran, Christopher Smith
Cinematographer: Ed Wild
Editor: Stuart Gazzard
Production Designer: John Frankish
Sound: Michael Spencer
Music: Christian Henson
Principal Cast: Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman

"'The Office' meets Deliverance" is the pitch - a sure sign that Severance is not your average fright film, but an off-the-wall mash-up of humour and horror. Midnight Madness alumnus Christopher Smith, director of 2004's Creep, bounces back with an even bloodier chunk of celluloid, winking at the audience with his tongue poking through his cheek.

After slugging away in the trenches of the trade, the sales division of international arms company Palisade Defence is "rewarded" with a corporate retreat at a chalet in forests of Hungary. Morale sinks when the accommodation turns out to be far beneath the five-star luxury they were promised, but enthusiastic team leader Richard (Tim McInnerny) and brown-nosing yes-man Gordon (Andy Nyman) forge ahead with office-bonding exercises for their motley crew.

As night falls, spooky stories about the origin of the cobwebbed resort come out, ranging from tales of an asylum taken over by inmates to a gruesome massacre by a group of shell-shocked mercenaries. IT specialist Steve (a hysterical performance by Danny Dyer) scoffs at the stories, but that might be due to the mix of magic mushrooms and ganja that causes him to think the trees in the forest are insulting him. The next day, during a game of paintball, the team is horrified to discover the agenda has changed: they have become the prey of unseen assailants lurking in the booby-trapped woods. Their corporate motto and mantra quickly becomes "Kill or Be Killed."

Collaborating on the sharp script, Smith and James Moran transcend convention, going beyond formulaic hack-and-slash by presenting truly sympathetic characters - a rarity in this genre. This compassion bears out in the snappy performances of a fine ensemble, including Dyer and Canadian actor Laura Harris as Maggie, the ambivalent office drone turned two-fisted femme fighter.

Delivering a payload of shocks, Smith brings a giddy sense of excitement to the exaggerated thrills. Severance delivers a shot of adrenaline chased with nitrous oxide into a genre recently bogged down in a vicious and sad cycle of sadism.

- Colin Geddes

Christopher Smith was born in Bristol and graduated from Bristol University with an M.A. in film production. He has worked in television as a director and assistant producer for "Barry Norman's Film Night" and directed the short films The 10,000th Day (97) and The Day Grandad Went Blind (98). His debut feature, Creep (04), screened at the 2004 Festival. Severance (06) is his second feature film.

Associated with European Film Promotion,
an initiative supported by the
European Union’s MEDIA Programme.
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