Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Review: Severance

Anybody expecting this year's THE DESCENT will be severely disappointed. A Brit-horror with "The Office"-style humour, it has enough good moments to make it worth one viewing, but enough flaws to keep it down in the basement of the recent flood of Deliverance/TXCM-style torture films. Early signs are encouraging that the film will defy genre expectations (a girl with a spider crawling up her back, there is a great scene with a man-trap) but it ends up playing it safe and sticking with the tried and tested.

Take the "noble" black character: he does nothing of significance in the entire film, but is poertrayed as an all-round good egg until he "bravely" dies defending the white girl. This now-standard horror cliche is not much more than Uncle Tom for the 2000s. Then we have the standard gratuitous american character in order to sell the film to the yanks. Can't have a British film without the token american girl stuck in there. To add insult, she is the one who takes up the standard "kick-ass babe" persona that every horror film is required to have by law. How played out is that role? Sure, THE DESCENT had it too, but at least it mixed it up by having *two* of them, both at each other's throats.

Then there's the hero: a standard "lad" into sex and drugs with a mockney accent, designed as a more blokeish version of Tim from The Office. I can't stand characters like that, or anything that targets that market segment (which is why i don't drink Coke Zero). This guy is also supposed to be comic relief, trouble is nothing he does or says is funny. There is a long, tedious subplot where he gets high on magic mushrooms that is not only completely irrelevant to the plot, it completely lacks any humour.

There's not much of interest after the man-trap sequence: Tim Mcinerny as the cowardly team leader steps on a land mine and what he does is so immediately predictable that you expect the film to pull a swerve, but it doesnt. It plays out exactly as you would expect. There isn't even a twist ending. Finally, the film tries to suggest there is more than meets the eye with its early playing up of connections with the War on Islam, but it turns out to be a complete red herring that goes nowhere. Actually the more i think about the film, the less i like it.

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