Severance (2006)

Rating: B-

Dir: Christopher Smith
Star: Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny, Toby Stephens

The employees of Palisades Defence are “rewarded” with a team-building exercise, to take place over a weekend deep in the Hungarian mountains. However, they end up at the wrong location: rather than the luxury hunting-lodge, it’s more of a… Well, disused medical facility. Their boss (McInnerny) insists they stay anyway, and the scheduled paintball games commence, despite some unnerving incidents overnight. However, an extremely painful incident with a man-trap kicks things up `from “unnerving” into “hardcore psychopathic,” as the employees find themselves being stalked and dispatched by a masked maniac (or is it more than one?), with a fondness for some very nasty methods of execution. Such as tying a victim to the tree, dousing them in petrol and then reaching for a flamethrower [a method of dispatch accused of fostering a copy-cat killing in Britain last year. Except without the flamethrower].

I enjoyed the understatedly British approach to much of this. For instance, there’s an early discussion concerning bears and whether they respect national borders. A little later, a bear wanders across the background of a scene, and none of the characters even notice. However, it may be too laid-back for its own good, and I was expecting more acerbic satire, given the core conceot – those who make a living selling death, now becoming the target. It’s probably close to an hour before this hits full stride. Not that I’d call it tedious while it gets there, not at all; just a bit too well-mannered for the bloody slasher movie at its core. Dyer and Harris do a good job of fleshing out their characters, and the final act has an undeniable roller-coaster feel to it that makes the waiting more than worthwhile. If a little short of the best British genre entries, you certainly won’t feel like you have had your time wasted.