In the dying days of the First World War, a bunker under the Western Front is located far behind the German line. Believed to have operated as a chemical weapons lab and military intelligence, fearful that it has been used to weaponise diseases, a team is sent to investigate, unaware of the extent of the horror they will uncover.
A perennial subgenre of horror movies is the supernatural infestation of a Nazi bunker, and even though WWI was fought against the German Empire rather than the National Socialist regime, many of the attendant tropes are present and correct.
Unusually for such a film there is a great deal of time spent on character development, and it’s quite some time before the infected soldiers of the bunker are encountered in all their slavering insane glory. Even more surprising is how little of the action involves combating rampaging rage monsters, with the plight of those remaining alive and human staying front and centre.
Some characters are inevitably more memorable than others, such as the PTSD-afflicted tunneller leading the excursion or the mad scientist doctor responsible for the outbreak, but even those with limited presence, such as a hypermasculine coke fiend who it’s easy to picture being played by Jason Statham, are given moments of attention. Even the German soldiers encountered who could so very easily have been reduced to anonymous antagonists are afforded a degree of characterisation.
In spite of this focus, the film is first and foremost a genre effort and never allows itself to forget that, trapping its characters in endless tunnels and behind ominous metal doors in a claustrophobic maze. The encroaching dread of any infected, despite being largely reduced to periodic distant howls and thumping echoing through the subterranean walls, still seem as though they could at any moment burst from a shadowy corner or unseen tunnel twist. Paranoia abounds within both the Allied and German groups, and even later when developing circumstances force certain opposing individuals together, even the need to work together against a greater danger doesn’t override their instinctive mistrust of the enemy.
Although not featured to as large a degree as you might expect, when it arrives the body horror becomes seared into your retinas, including occurrences such as an especially grisly autopsy scene, or thin white worm-like creatures flailing from the orifices of the dead with such repellent volatility it’s enough to put you off spaghetti for life.
A decent instalment of a recurrent subgenre, Trench 11 manages to be several films at once, each complementing the other in their amalgamation into a singularly realised tale of dread and terror.
TRENCH 11/CERTIFICATE: TBA / DIRECTOR: LEO SCHERMAN / SCREENPLAY: LEO SCHERMAN, MATT BOOI / STARRING: ROSSIF SUTHERLAND, ROBERT STADLOBER, CHARLIE CARRICK, SHAUN BENSON, TED ATHERTON / RELEASE DATE: TBA