DEATH TRENCH / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: LEO SCHERMAN / SCREENPLAY: MATT BOOI / STARRING: ROSSIF SUTHERLAND, ROBERT STADLOBER. CHARLIE CARRICK / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
War is hell. We already know that. The actions of man in wartime showed us the worst of humanity, and it’s in our darkest moments that a section of the horror genre still tries to add to. But is there anything more that it can bring? Following in the dirty footsteps of films like The Bunker, Deathwatch, and last year’s Overlord is Death Trench (also titled as the much more forgettable Trench 11), one of the latest to mine scares from the worst place of all.
With the end of the First World War in sight, British military intelligence discover a German outpost that stretches miles underground. Fearing the worst of Nazi experimentation, they’re given the go ahead to take a team to explore. Accompanied by a small group of American soldiers, they only need one more person - an experienced tunneller. That’s Lt. Berton (Rossif Sutherland), a Canadian soldier in love with a French civilian and recovering from having been trapped for days following a tunnel collapse.
Death Trench makes the most of what it’s got at its disposal, forming an entertaining if fairly unoriginal movie that never outstays its welcome. Snow-covered exterior locations give you some aesthetically pleasing breathing room before securing the majority of the action in tight underground corridors. The plot throws up your standard Nazi medical meddling, with the threat of an out of control parasitic outbreak warranting the sacrifice of lives for the greater good. Tight and poorly-lit corridors make for some claustrophobic zombie attacks, and you genuinely want to learn what’s been going on behind the sealed-off bunker doors. It’s maybe not as interesting or horrific an infection or monster as you might hope for, especially as the fairly effective build-up sees witnesses doing anything not to go back into the sealed-off site, but strong effects render the squirming horror with enough visceral movement to wish it doesn’t happen to you.
For the most part the characters are standard worm fodder, and you’ll struggle to remember any names, but Reiner (played with wide eyed relish by Robert Stadlober) makes for an enjoyable and hissable villain, and the relationship of Kapitan Müller (Shaun Benson) and Lt. Berton, two good men stuck on the other side of the battle lines looking to make things right, makes you hope for the best from both of them.
Death Trench isn’t going to keep you up at night, but it’s compelling and entertaining while able to do enough with its small budget. An enjoyable performance from Robert Stadlober and some bloody and squirmy effects keep things interesting.