Set ’em up, knock ’em down. In Severance, a group of colleagues from an English weapons manufacturing company head to a far off, woody region for a teambuilding exercise and naturally get stranded there. Then one-by-one they start to get offed in horrible ways, for reasons I won’t spoil here. So far, nothing new. Low budget film makers have been making horror movies from the ‘isolate and kill’ mould for years. The fun is in the execution, so to speak.
The actors get the first half of the movie to set up their characters and although they don’t quite break away from stereotypes, they do engage us enough to make us care about their (potential) slaughter. It plays like an episode from The Office. There are: an ineffective leader, his yes-man, his arrogant and handsome challenger, a peacenik feminist, a nerd, a stoner and an American babe. The movie plays entertaining tricks on us by sticking deceptively close to cliché in both types and horror set-ups, but subverting those just enough to keep us unsettled.
The movie won’t terrify you, as the effective gallows humour is sometimes spectacularly silly and deflates some of the tension, but this also thankfully takes the edge off some gory and gruesome scenes later on. The movie’s most entertaining gag involves a far off plane accidentally being taken out, with no effect on the rest of the movie.
Apart from Tim McInnerny (of Blackadder fame) you might not quite be able to place the faces, all of them know mostly for television. This just adds to the fun as you can’t always be sure what’s going to happen next and to whom. The ending, like the rest of the film, is part cliché and part funny reinvention. At least it does not have one of those annoying open endings, where the final shot threatens a sequel. Recommended if you can stand gore.