Have you ever heard of Mike the Headless Chicken? He survived for 18 months after getting his head chopped off. Google it if you don’t believe me. It’s worth committing a few of the details to memory; I find it’s an excellent ice-breaker when meeting new people.
But its not just chickens than can do cool stuff like that. In new British horror film Severance, Harris (Toby Stephens) says that a human head can survive a few minutes after decapitation. He goes on to suggest to his colleague that Mary Antoinette could have looked up at her body from the basket where her head lay after its meeting with the business end of the guillotine.
After letting slip such a nugget of trivia, is anyone willing to hazard a guess as to how Harris dies? I’ll give you a clue, he doesn’t drown.
In fact, decapitation is one of more pleasant killing techniques employed in Christopher Smith’s film. It charts what happens to six employees of a weapons company when their team-building trip to a luxury lodge in Hungary is interrupted by a bunch of crazed Soviet war criminals.
At times, Severance looks like it’s going to turn into a procession of stereotypes (the only local women in the film are prostitutes, Tim McInnerny’s character is fond of management jargon, etc) but the tongue in cheek approach stops this from becoming too annoying.
Amid the gags, the film also manages to a point or two about the morality of the arms trade; one of the characters is trying to develop a non-fatal method of immobilising people that could replace land mines while another character is subsequently killed by such a device.
If you’re a horror geek who enjoys a high body count and inventive methods of dispatching people from this earth, there’s plenty of that in Severance to keep you happy. But if, like me, you couldn’t give a toss about such things, it’s still worth watching because for the well-execut ed moments of dark comedy.
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