Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Fourth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series - Movie #4: Severance

Unpolished and in need of at least one more rewrite, but still entertaining and perfectly serviceable, Severance (2006) is the latest installment in this year's FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series.  A seven-person team of low-level executives from Palisade Defense, an arms-manufacturing company, are on a team-building retreat somewhere in Hungary/Romania/Serbia.  (The movie was filmed on location in Hungary but the hapless executives have no idea where they are.)  When the main route to the luxury lodge to which they are headed is blocked, the nervous bus driver abandons them on the roadside, refusing to drive down the scary secondary road.  Thus stranded, they decide to hoof it.  The road takes them to a spooky and abandoned building, however, and despite putting the best spin on their situation, it is by no means a "luxury lodge."  The next day, while a couple of them hike out to find a cell signal, the other five play paintball in the gloomy woods.  This is when hell starts breaking loose - the bus driver is found dead; a bear trap mangles one of the paintballer's legs - and the group is stalked by menacing figures, chased back to the not-luxury lodge and then picked off one by one.

This flick is a little uneven, with broadly drawn characters, most of whom get no development, including the bad guys - they aren't supernatural Jason/Michael types but just actual people for whom we never get clear motivation.  Final Girl Laura Harris (of Dead Like Me fame) is the best of the bunch, and it's fun to see her resolve coalesce when one too many of her coworkers gets slaughtered.  The strongest points of the movie are its ability to crank up the atmospheric scares and then back off the tension (I watched a good portion blurrily, over my glasses, sure that something awful was about to jump out) and its humor.  Severance isn't quite funny enough to qualify as a horror-comedy a la Shaun of the Dead, Black Sheep or Slither, but I did laugh out loud several times, which was also nice for diffusing tension.

Severance isn't my favorite kind of scary movie - I much prefer monsters or supernatural horror to stuff like this that could possibly (however improbably) happen in real life.  But this little movie was certainly scary, gory and funny enough to enjoy.

Next:  Ravenous!

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