Main cast: Danny Dyer (Steve), Laura Harris (Maggie), Tim McInnerny (Richard), Toby Stephens (Harris), Claudie Blakley (Jill), Andy Nyman (Gordon), Babou Ceesay (Billy), Juli Drajkó (Olga), Judit Viktor (Nadia), and David Gilliam (George)
Director: Christopher Smith
Severance is billed as “The Office meets Friday the 13th“, which is a fancy way of saying that humor would be used in an effort to deflect any shortcomings in this otherwise standard slasher fare.
The plot is simple. The European sales team of the military arms corporation, Palisade Defence, travels to their boss George’s new luxury lodge somewhere in the woods in Hungary for their annual team building exercise. When the bus breaks down, the know-it-all manager Richard insists on leading the rest through a detour. They end up in a run-down lodge, which Richard insists is their destination. When they start dying off one by one, it becomes clear that a hopeless manager can literally be the death of the team.
Everyone here is a stock cliché – the cynical ice queen, the loud-mouthed broad, the office sleazeball, the toady, et cetera, and when they do die off one by one, it’s not very satisfying because the movie tries to be smarter than it actually is. For example, one of them talks early on about decapitation, and surprise, he gets his head chopped off later. Really though, I saw that one coming the moment that guy talked about the matter, so I don’t know whether all this is foreshadowing done a little too obviously for its own good or a failed attempt at showing irony.
The movie also suffers from villain decay. Early on, the villains are all-powerful crazy people that can apparently teleport, move in the shadows, or what not because they can freaking do everything and anything, like ninja superheroes. But when the meat count is down to the twits that are picked by the script to survive, these villains morph into inept nincompoops that start missing their aim and do various stupid things to allow their targets to get away each time.
The humor works at times, though, with some of the more acerbic characters delivering some really amusing zingers now and then. There is also a darkly hilarious scene of a misfired rocket launcher that has to be seen to be believed.
However, for the most part Severance is a standard slasher movie. It is far more entertaining as a comedy than horror, so when the funnier characters die off, things become pretty mundane to follow.