Movie Review: Severance

The darkly comic splatter movie Severance is a movie you will probably find yourself desperately wanting to embrace, but like that girlfriend or boyfriend whose looks just don’t match up to their personality, you will eventually reject it as not quite good enough to stick with. Upon first seeing the previews for Severance prior to another movie I rented from Netflix (I think it might have been the vastly superior Korean monster movie The Host) I immediately put it on my queue and looked forward to seeing it. Don’t you just hate those movies where the previews show the best parts?

Still, you will continue rooting for Severance right up to the end because it does have enough going for it to mask the fact that it is essentially just another remake of Friday the 13th rather than an Americanized example of the best in horror films today, those from Asia. Where even Asian splatter movies have intelligence far beyond what you would expect or hope for, Severance manages to fit right in-between the worst of the Jason-Freddie-Michael Myers rip-offs and those Asian onryo flicks. Severance definitely has flair and features at least half a dozen laugh-out-loud moments. And while it isn’t always successful in teaming in its laughs with its boo-gotchas, it does contain at least one scene that will have you laughing while feeling the real need to turn away from the camera. I won’t give anything away except that to warn you that this humorously grotesque sequence arrives when you least expect it and it makes literal the title of the movie. Unfortunately, after this scene takes place there is only really one or two more funny parts to the movie as it sort of devolves into a Saw-like gorefest.

Listen carefully to the seemingly throwaway conversation between the two most normal characters in the movie about what happened to Marie Antoinette after they chopped off her head, however, because it foreshadows what is absolutely the finest moment of Severance.

Aside from the rote ending of the Severance, its biggest drawback is its stubborn refusal to follow through on what is an authentically original premise; that of creating horror out of one of those weekend getaways that corporations send their top execs on to teach them teamwork and, more aptly, gamesmanship. There lies hidden deep within Severance a great movie, but the filmmakers seem to be more interested in coming up with new ways to make torture funny than they are ways to send up the very lunacy and idiocy of the idea of a company sending white collar lemmings out into the real world of survival in the jungle. What is most distressing is how quickly the film simply tosses out this potential gold mine of an idea and settles in for the easy laugh. I really and truly wanted to love Severance if only because it features Tim McInnerny of Blackadder fame, but his tremendous talent was essentially wasted. If your idea of a good time at the movies is Saw, but you consider that franchise to be less than perfect because it’s far too brainy, then you are likely to have your brain taxed by Severance. If, on the other hand, you want a bit more effort from the typical gorefest that passes for Hollywood-style horror then you could do worse than Severance.