At first, "Severance" seems determined to tread the same path blazed by another UK picture, "Shaun of the Dead."
Where "Shaun" mishmashed bits from zombie horror films with standard romantic-comedy elements, this dark comic horror film takes the office politics from TV's "The Office" and fuses them onto a serial-killer thriller.
When "Severance" sticks to that formula, it's fine. Unfortunately, however, around the one-hour mark it turns into yet another graphic "Hostel"-style killfest that eventually washes away all the fun ... with lots of blood.
The concept has some promise. A marketing team for an Eastern European defense contractor is headed to a remote location for the weekend. The team members are supposed to be participating in "team-building" exercises. But they immediately start squabbling when the road to their destination is blocked, and an argument with the bus driver leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere.
The boss (Tim McInnerny) is determined to continue on and makes his employees trek a couple of miles to what he believes is the company's luxury resort. Instead, the rundown cabin they find turns out to be something completely different. Apparently some sinister things have been going on there, and when the marketers try to leave, they stumble into a series of booby traps and at least one masked killer, who begins knocking them off one by one.
Co-screenwriter/director Christopher Smith (2004's "Creep") abandons the humorous trappings as the film progresses, and things turn unpleasantly dark as a result.
And none of these characters are interesting or likable. In fact, McInnerny's clueless boss isn't a far cry from either Steve Carell or Ricky Gervais (who play the respective "Office" bosses in the U.S. and UK versions of that sitcom).
"Severance" is rated R for graphic horror violence (amputations, beheadings, stabbings, shootings and violence against women), some stomach-churning gore, strong sexual language (profanity, crude slang and other suggestive talk), drug content (hallucinogenic use and references), a brief torture sequence, brief partial female nudity, and some brief sexual contact. Running time: 95 minutes.