Genre : Horror
Rating : Not Rated
Director: Leo Scherman
One of the most unique facets of horror is the fact that there are so many subgenres within it. Sure, horror isn’t the only genre like this but few others feel as distinct as the ones within horror. You can browse the scary movie section on Netflix will give you everything from slashers and psychopathic killers to ghosts, goblins and a wide variety of nasty monsters. And as fun as those can be one of the most interesting horror subgenres is also one of the oldest, military horror. Going as far back as 1941’s King of the Zombies the battlefield has become a perfect environment to frighten audiences. From the red-stained slopes in Dead Snow to more cerebral terrors like Jacob’s Ladder wartime has made a terrifyingly varied experience. The latest to enlist is Canadian fright film, Trench 11.
It is 1918 and World War I is coming to an end. In France, the Allied Powers are on their way to victory when they discover biological weapons. Developed by Germany this mysterious threat is in a base known as the Wotan Compound. Lead by traumatized tunneller Berton they travel further and further underground, discovering the disturbing experiments of Dr. Reiner. Developing a new kind of disease it can not only end the Great War but the world itself.
Helming this Canadian tale of terror is writer-director Leon Scherman. Best known for his work in reality television he was actually trained by David Cronenberg (Rabid, The Fly), a fact recognizable in Trench 11. Like his mentor Scherman is able to expertly mix genres and influences. Within the claustrophobic tunnels beneath the Earth he is able to create the kind of paranoid-laden setting reminiscent of The Descent and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Thanks to a good set and a tension-filled style he is able to defy his budget and create one of the more unique settings in recent years. At the same time Trench 11 isn’t always a quiet, atmospheric affair.
Thanks to effects from Francois Dagenais (Land of the Dead, the Saw series) Scherman isn’t afraid to let the blood flow. Again, like Cronenberg’s best, Trench 11 is just as occasional detour into the bloody world of body horror. With some bone crunching sound design moments like an impromptu autopsy and a shell-shocked German soldier’s suicide are sure to delight horror fans when the actual infected leave a bit to be desired.
That isn’t to say you’ll see too much of these parasitic nightmares. While the 28 Days Later-esque creatures may stalk the halls of the Wotan Compound, Trench 11 is more of a concerned with storytelling than scares. A collaboration between Scherman and writer Matt Booi, Trench 11 plays more like a taut thriller than your typical horror movie. More of a slow burn you’ll spend more time with our group of stock soldiers than some may like. And while the cast can be quite likable the one to stick out is Robert Stadlober as Nazi scientist, Dr. Reiner.
Doing his best Hans Landa impression, Stadlober is the perfect mix of mad scientist and evil mastermind. Like Christoph Waltz’s Landa you never quite know how to take the character. One moment he is eating the scenery, justifying his devious experiments. The next he is unflinchingly inhuman killing his hostage. Again, while nothing we haven’t seen before it adds color to a movie that can feel a bit stale at times, particularly early on.
Despite its flaws, Trench 11 is a worthy addition to the military horror pantheon. Even though the beginning can be a bit slow it does a good job not only showing the effects of war but also how far some will go to win. And while it not be an atomic bomb when it comes to impacting horror it’s mix of gory body horror and likable cast make this 90-minute movie an enjoyable timebomb of terror.