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Bloodbath in a forest; Mail Film Editor GRAHAM YOUNG can't see the blood for the trees The Big Movie SEVERANCE (15) VERDICT: *****.

Byline: GRAHAM YOUNG

IF YOU go down into the woods today... you'd better hold on to your head!

For the second time this month, a Lottery-funded British horror film delivers a bloodbath in a forest.

Once again, an ensemble cast comes under attack from a mystery assailant.

And, guess what, the motley characters are set to be picked off one by one in gruesome fashion.

It's familiar genre stuff, but not without plenty of mood lightening black humour not seen in such quantity since Shaun of the Dead.

Limited release Wilderness is the more savage film which, by pitching together a gang of young offenders, is also more satisfyingly unpredictable.

Though gruesome at times and with the odd jump up its sleeve, Severance has a lighter touch which might just put it within range of some hardy women viewers with strong stomachs.

Set in Eastern Europe, which recently gave us the horrors of Hostel, the 96-minute plot centres on one of those 'teambuilding' away trips which most employees probably dread.

The featured workers are from the sales arm of defence company Palisade.

They're more akin to an ASDA in-store bakery team to me, but their isolation and ordinariness only adds to the fun once the lights go out on their 'holiday'.

The capable cast includes Danny Dyer (Football Factory / The Business), Toby Stephens (Die Another Day), Tim McInnerney (101 Dalmatians / Notting Hill) and Laura Harris (Dead Like Me / 24).

British director Christopher Smith - who made such a memorable and unsavoury debut last year with the London Underground thriller Creep - co-wrote the script with the unknown James Moran (Cheap Rate Gravity).

As a potential satire on the defence industry this misses the target by a mile, while the escort girls are gratuitous extras aimed at hot-blooded fellas.

But, if you like this sort of nonsense, and if you haven't seen the best bits in the trailer, add another star and join the vacation.

www.severancethemovie.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

SEVERANCE...when team building goes wrong Juli Drajko as Olga, Danny Dyer as Steve and Judit Viktor as Nadia.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 25, 2006
Words:347
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