By Fred Topel | Images property of Magnolia Pictures.
It's a bloody, gory episode of The Office where The Office goes to Hostel. Actually, it's more like the mutants from Hills Have Eyes but how do you fit that into a pithy tag line?
Movie Review: Severance
Imagine a kids in the woods slasher movie with grown ups. A corporate team on a retreat gets stranded in the forest by a bus driver and stalked by a killer in a run down old cabin. Picked off one by one, they each die horribly creative deaths.
It's the same group of character types as the classics: The complainer, the stoner, the prude, the token. It's actually fun to see those types represented by actors who've done a project or two beforehand so they breathe some life and fun into the stereotypes.
They're not idiots. They try to avoid getting stuck in the woods and try to escape. When trapped, they still handle themselves better than the usual kids. They're morally practical, considering less than heroic options because they're the most sensible.
The humor is perfectly self-aware but not derivatively self-referential. Some punchlines are implied, things you knew were going to happen and don't have to see the whole event. There is humor within the situation, but never at its expense. What seems mundane in any other situation is inappropriately comic when desperately fighting to survive. The backstory told like a silent horror movie is pretty classy.
There are big, loud jump scares and the kills are brutal and effective. Everything set up pays off, but maybe not in the way that seems obvious. The whole thing builds to a nonstop climax with more action than… I don't know, I'm starting to get carried away with the comparisons. I will say again though, it's sickly brilliant and twistedly clever.