HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: SEVERANCE

CAST
Danny Dyer (Straightheads)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me)
Tim McInnerny (Notting Hill)
Toby Stephens (The Machine)
Claudie Blakeley (Gosford Park)
Andy Nyman (Black Death)
The film opens with George (David Gilliam) and two women (Juli Drajkó and Judit Viktor) running through the woods. The women fall into a large pit trap while George is caught by a snare. As he hangs helplessly, a masked man approaches and disembowels him with a knife.
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What is later revealed as some days prior to this, the European Sales division of Palisade Defence military arms corporation are on a bus to a team-building weekend at a “luxury lodge” in the Mátra Mountains of Hungary. When a fallen tree blocking the road halts the bus’s progress, the driver (Sándor Boros) refuses to take a dirt road through the woods and, after an argument, drives off leaving the group to walk the remaining distance to the lodge. Eventually the group reaches the lodge, which is old and in serious disrepair, but the manager Richard (Tim McInnerny) convinces the wary but tired group to enter. Inside, Harris (Toby Stephens) discovers a file cabinet full of cryptic Palisade documents, written in Russian. The group discusses the documents, leading Harris to relate a story he’d heard about the lodge: the lodge was previously a mental institution, and in the early 20th century a Palisade-made nerve gas was used to clear it out after the inmates took over. Jill (Claudie Blakley) responds with the story she’d heard: the lodge was a “reeducation center” for Russian war criminals, and after an escape a Palisade-made nerve gas was used to clear escapees out of nearby buildings. Both mention a lone survivor who swore revenge on Palisade. Steve (Danny Dyer) starts to tell his own story about the lodge’s past as a clinic staffed by busty nurses when he finds a human tooth in the meat pie the group is eating for dinner. Chastising Gordon (Andy Nyman) for serving a pie he just found in the kitchen, everyone goes to bed.
 That night Jill sees someone looking into the lodge from the trees. Though nobody is found outside, everyone but Richard agrees that they should leave the lodge. The next morning Richard grudgingly sends Harris and Jill to the top of the hill to call the bus driver back, on the condition that the rest participate in a team-building game of paintball. Reaching the hill, Harris and Jill find the bus abandoned and the bus driver dead in a nearby creek. Back at the lodge, the game of paintball has just finished when Gordon steps into a bear trap. After several failed attempts by Steve and Billy (Babou Ceesayu) to pry the trap open, Gordon’s left leg is cut through completely under the knee. Harris and Jill arrive in the bus, load everyone in and head back for town. On the way, a spike strip is thrown in front of the bus, which causes it to crash. Harris is thrown clear of the bus in the crash, and is decapitated by a masked killer with a machete. Jill is captured and tied to a tree, then gagged, doused with gasoline and burned alive. The rest discover Harris’s body, prompting them to head for the lodge to hide for the night.
 While Steve and Maggie (Laura Harris) smoke, a masked figure (Levente Törköly) “quietly” grabs Gordon and carries him into the basement. Discovering Gordon’s absence and a newly opened door, the four head into the basement which leads to an underground prison. Through one door Billy and Maggie find the now-dead Gordon who has had the Palisade logo carved into his torso and a now-unmasked killer who fires a shotgun at them. The two hide in a nearby cell, where Billy dies from a chest wound. Steve hides on the second floor while Richard escapes out the back into the woods. While the killer searches for Steve, Maggie sneaks up on him with a large knife she took from the prison in the basement, but she falls through the rickety floor. The killer turns round and takes aim at Maggie, but, at the last second, Steve saves her by impaling the killer through the back. The killer falls down and becomes lodged in the main level floor, and Maggie takes his shotgun and shoots the killer in the head.
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 Maggie and Steve exit the lodge believing they are safe, but discover that a group of several more armed, Russian-speaking killers are awaiting them outside. Maggie shoots one before he can fire on them, and the two run into the woods. They come across Richard, who has stepped on a Palisade-made land mine and cannot move without detonating it. Richard guides Maggie and Steve through the minefield. The killers know that the area is a minefield and do not enter; they use a fallen branch to pass over the minefield close to Richard and torment him with insults and stones as they pass overhead. Accepting his situation Richard does his best to save the others and steps off the mine, blowing up himself along with two of the killers. Steve and Maggie come to another lodge, the real Palisade lodge. Inside they find their boss George, who is partying with two escorts Steve ordered via the Internet earlier. George brings out a prototype missile launcher and fires it at the approaching killers, but the missile locks on to a passing commercial jet instead, destroying it. The five run into the woods, leading to the events shown in the beginning of the film. Maggie is snared, then about to be molested by a killer, but manages to smash his head with a rock. Steve encounters two attackers and gets beaten and stabbed, but eventually kills them both with a knife and a submachine gun. Maggie is chased by a flamethrower-wielding killer into an abandoned prison camp, filled with crates bearing the Palisade logo. There, Maggie breaks her leg, but is saved when one of the escorts, rescued by Steve, arrives and shoots the man. Steve, Maggie and the escorts make it to a rowboat on the shore of the nearby lake, and as they paddle off to safety Steve jokingly quips, “Foursome?”.
Good performances all round, a good script and overall good pacing make this film never boring. It may be a tad predictable in the ‘whos gonna die next’ kinda way and the romantic subplot, but the fun is in seeing how it unravels.

REVIEW: LOST IN SPACE (2018)

 

Maxwell Jenkins in Lost in Space (2018)

MAIN CAST

Molly Parker (Pure)
Toby Stephens (The Machine)
Taylor Russell (The Maze)
Ignacio Serricchio (Bones)
Maxwell Jenkins (A Family Man)
Mina Sundwall (#Horror)
Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Brian Steele (Terminator Salvation)

Maxwell Jenkins in Lost in Space (2018)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Raza Jaffrey (Homeland)
Ajay Friese (Riot Girls)
Veenu Sandhu (Ambrosia)
Sibongile Mlambo (Teen Wolf)
Kiki Sukezane (Heroes Reborn)
Amelia Burstyn (Defiance)
Yukari Komatsu (Godzilla)
Adam Greydon Reid (Izombie)
Iain Belcher (Ungodly Acts)
Rowan Schlosberg (The Crossing)
Selma Blair (Hellboy)
Bill Mumy (Babylon 5)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (47 Ronin)
Shaun Parkes (The Mummy Returns)
Amelia Burstyn (Defiance)

Lost in Space (2018)After a large mysterious object called the Christmas Star collides with Earth, humanity is forced to look for a new habitable world to call home. When their mothership, The Resolute, runs into a spacetime disruption, all of the Jupiter ships, including the Robinsons’, are forced to evacuate, which results in their ship crash-landing on an uncharted planet. This is where the Robinsons encounter their greatest enemy…No, not Dr. Smith…We’ll get to her later. Their biggest stumbling block is themselves. Especially when it comes to working together. The writers’ effective use of flashbacks throughout the season offers vital information, which helps the viewer better understand what makes the Robinsons tick.Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Ignacio Serricchio, Maxwell Jenkins, Mina Sundwall, and Taylor Russell in Lost in Space (2018)For instance, John Robinson, played by Black Sails alum Toby Stephens, struggles to be the father his children need him to be in times of crisis. We learn early on that he’s a Marine and rarely sees his children because he’s out on secret missions most of the time. When his son Will (Maxwell Jenkins) can’t find the courage to complete a difficult task, instead of being a comforting parent, John treats Will like a soldier, barking orders and telling him to follow protocol. Stephens deftly portrays John as a man who wants to do the right thing but doesn’t know how. It’s a dilemma that only gets worse once the robot shows up.“Danger Will Robinson” is back with a reimagined version of the hulking arm-flapping robot. The robot’s origin story is a bit different and more unique than its predecessors, but we won’t spoil the reasons why. In place of a distant father, Will’s relationship with the Robot becomes pivotal to the entire season, as John both loathes and respects the robot for looking after his son. Something John failed to do back on Earth. The Robinson women are equally fantastic. Maureen, the mom, is the leader of the group. Even John cowers in her wake. Actress Molly Parker (Deadwood) gives a fierce performance as the Robinson matriarch, who like John, finds it difficult to know when to trust that her kids will make the right decisions.Molly Parker in Lost in Space (2018)There’s also Penny (Mina Sundwall), the middle child, and Judy (Taylor Russell), the oldest. Of all the kids, Judy goes through the biggest transformation this season. At 18, she’s already a trained surgeon who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders whenever someone is badly injured. After going through her own traumatic event shortly after their crash, Judy experiences bouts of PTSD that impede her ability to do her job. Russell handles her character’s fragile emotional state well.Let’s talk about Dr. Smith, played by Parker Posey. In a series that has effectively resurfaced as a dynamic 21st-century drama, Posey’s Smith feels like she’s stuck back in 1965. Her version of Smith is always up to no good and it’s hard to understand why the Robinsons keep giving her chances instead of throwing her out of the airlock. Dr. Smith is just so obviously evil, with no complexity to her character. Even when the writers try to develop her backstory, it falls short. None of her motivations, except for survival, make sense. If you took Smith out of the picture, no one would miss her. Lost in Space is a stellar sci-fi adventure series that the whole family can enjoy. The Robinsons are a fascinating bunch that are fighting for their own survival as well as that of the human race. Over the course of its 10 episodes, you will be introduced to some other colorful characters like the roguish Don Smith, played by a charismatic Ignacio Serricchio and Victor Dhar, the political-type you just love to hate. If you take Smith out of the equation, the series is worth getting lost in.