Christopher Smith‘s Severance (Magnolia, 3.07) , a reputedly witty horror-thriller, shot to the top of my Toronto must-see list earlier today when I found out it’s being screened at this weekend’s Telluride Film Festival. I don’t know when a horror film of any kind last played Tellruride, but obviously it wouldn’t have been accepted if it hadn’t been two or three cuts above the norm.

“Personally I think that horror comedy is veyr hard to do really well,” says a buyer who saw it at Cannes last May, “but I think Smith really nails it. And it’s intelligent to boot.”
I’m told that if you’re a fan of Dilbert and “Dilbert humor”, you’ll enjoy Severance‘s brand of humor a bit more fully.
Severance is about an international arms dealer who treats his six employees to a mountain retreat getaway in Eastern Europe. And of course, they all get knocked off one by one…but not by a monster. They’re attacked by a renegade band of mercenaries looking to settle a score with the arms dealer because he screwed them on a deal.
I haven’t quoted a review from the IMDB in a long time but fuck it. It’s from Kris60 from Berkeley, and it starts off by saying that “yes, it’s a slasher movie by definition: people meet horrific ends through discomforting means. But unlike slasher movies with sophomoric scripts, this one get points for smart dialogue, strong political perspective and a high humor quotient.
“The title might persuade some that it;s a reference to losing one’s job. And upon hearing it’s a slasher film, one might think the reference cuts more towards Marie Antoinette. Both are borne out, yet the title’s other reference — which comes quietly but cleverly to light at the conclusion — is somberly delightful.
“For the squeamish, give this one a pass — you won’t make it past the first bit of nastiness. For those who are a little braver, but wouldn’t usually attend a film in which most of the cast is guaranteed to wind up sprung from this mortal coil, do give this one a go. You’ll be pleasantly surprised! ”
The screenplay is by Smith and James Moran, and the costars are Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman, Babou Ceesay and David Gilliam.