A rowdy horror-comedy combo, SEVERANCE takes dual aim at global arms dealing and mundane office politics. Director Chris Smith's movie is at once gleeful and graphic (the joke extends to a mock Web site extolling the firm's motto: "We're hitting a home run for freedom and giving terrorism a time out!"). No one on the team looks a likely hero: Steve (Danny Dyer) gets high on mushrooms, social-minded Jill (Claudie Blakley) seems like a poor fit for the company, and executive assistant Billy (Babou Ceesay) is African American --- and thus, according to the rules of this spoofy genre picture, doomed.
Though she initially looks wan and self-interested, it's Maggie (Laura Harris, the sweet-looking blond terrorist from Season 2 of 24) who ultimately proves angry and resilient, exhorting her colleagues to fight back ... even when one loses his leg in a bear trap, another is burned alive by a flamethrower, and others are subjected to horrific torture. While the survivors begin to show gumption, the killers remain dark, lurking, cartoonish incarnations of existential payback for the arms dealers' crass profiteering. The point may not be subtle, but it is fairly satisfying (arms dealers are, after all, pretty easy to hate). Although Severance's lost-in-the-woods terror is a familiar plot premise, it offers clever dialogue, sharp performances, and some outrageous gross-out humor. And while it's not for the faint of heart, it is, in the end, strangely heartening.