I suppose I should start by saying that I don’t normally enjoy horror films. This may go some way towards explaining my reaction to ‘Severance’, but I think it goes further than that.
The problem with ‘Severance’ is the violence. I would normally expect a horror film to contain violence of one or two types: comedy violence, or violence that remains within its own self-contained fantasy world. ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and the ‘Scary Movie’ franchise are examples of the former type of violence; the madman in the tumble-down house is a generic example of the typical horror-film trope. Most of the violence in ‘Severance’ is not comic or generic, but serious.
This serious violence comes from the real world; from the collapse of the Eastern bloc, from armed rebels (who are even referred to as ‘terrorists’), and with allusions to prison camps which owe their look and feel to Auschwitz.
When a film turns such serious issues into the stuff of cheap horror thrills, something is wrong. Ostensibly, the makers of ‘Severance’ are criticising the international military and security industry, yet they are actually feeding us more black-and-white, goodies-versus-baddies nonsense that closely resembles existing stereotypes (especially relating to Eastern Europeans).