By David Dent
This Canadian film, previously named Trench 11 (but presumably dropped because people would ask about the other ten ‘Trench’ movies), is a rather good mix of war and horror themes.
Unlike previous similar genre mixing examples (Overlord, the Outpost movies for example), Death Trench is set in France (actually Winnipeg) at the end of the First World War. A crack team are assembled to locate and investigate a German tunnel system 78 feet under the forest of Argonne, near to the front line, which may or not be home to weaponised chemical experiments created by the evil Nazi Reiner. OK it is.
With expert Canadian tunneller, boozy Berton, roped in to help, a motley crew of allies sets out to find the tunnel. But at the same time the Germans are headed to the same place to clean up their mess and remove any last traces of their evil tinkering. Who will get there first, and what will they find? Well ‘the infected’ is the answer, but I don’t think that’s going to be a massive spoiler.
Actually director Leo Scherman doesn’t overdo the zombie action, preferring to generate tension and horror by groups of soldiers feeling their way around a pitch black, enclosed tunnel system and muttering lines like “this place wasn’t built to keep people out; it was built to keep people in.”
There’s a bit of body horror (the tentacles crawling round the title credits suggest we might see more of this, but sadly not) and the practical effects – headshots, syringe in the eyeball – are brilliantly done but again sparsely utilised.
But despite hoping for more over the top moments (and a less obviously electronic score which slightly detracts from the period feel of the piece) this is nevertheless an effective movie which builds its tension well. There’s some fun in the stereotyping of the German, US and stiff upper lip British commanders, and while I’d have liked a little more action and a little less shadow, Death Trench will do very nicely.