Interesting that the British horror comedy Severance is being released close to the release of Hotel Part II. Both have similar themes of westerners in eastern Europe facing tortuous killers in horribly sadistic manners. However, Severance couldnít be farther from the Hostel series.
Severance is a self-aware, smart-aleck slasher flick which winks at the genreís tricks. It doesnít take itself seriously and provides a bit of a moral. You see the victims of this film are a group of officemates on retreat who happen to work for a weapons manufacturing company and their deaths are tied to their violent careers. Profiting off violence to others is punished here instead of promiscuity or drug abuse as in most horror films. In fact, itís the horndog pothead who survives to see the end. The film comments on the nature of evil and how what goes around comes around.
Severance is also very funny. It plays with how inherently silly the horror genre is and turns that to its advantage. However, it manages to stay scary most of the time too. It is filmed in a manner that mimics b-grade slasher flicks and they throw in all the great cheesy music and the other trappings that evoke this sort of film. Itís all done very consciously and is therefore quite satisfying. There is a great send up of the gratuitous nudity that riddles these films. Severanceís greatest satisfaction comes from how it shows us it knows what itís doing.
This isnít a review of Hostel but the contrast is how slasher films have a history of moralization, xenophobia and exploitation. We are supposed to learn to be good little girls and boys when we watch them. Better be good or the bogey man will come for us. Usually the virtuous will survive to save the day. Hostel was especially bad (mostly for not being scary) for being hatefully racist, simplistically misogynistic, and overly moralizing. It takes itself far too seriously and ends up looking cheap and silly. Severance avoids that by turning all of it on its head and giving us the wink.
Severance is simply a thinking personís slasher flick. This is a rare thing to come across so enjoy it while you can.