Is it such a bad thing to find it refreshing that Trench 11 is a horror film that takes place during World War I? There is something about it being placed in this time period that immediately makes the familiar plot seem entirely unique. The easiest way to describe this film is to say it’s The Dirty Dozen meets John Carpenter’s The Thing. Seriously, if that doesn’t at least raise an eyebrow and catch your interest at least a little bit, then clearly this won’t be the movie for you. Now, granted, this was shot on a low budget and is ambitious; while it doesn’t quite meet its full potential, Trench 11 is still a fun little flick to throw on late at night.
The war is ending, and British intelligence has discovered a secret German bunker. It’s believed that down in this bunker the Germans have been working on a chemical weapon, so a team is put together to find out what is going on down there. A Canadian soldier, Lt. Berton (Rossif Sutherland), a tunneller, is recruited to help the British soldiers explore the bunker. The guy is still recovering from being buried for twelve days and developing a relationship with his French girlfriend when Berton is forced to leave, and things are only going to get more unpleasant for him as the film rolls on.
When the group finally gets to the bunker, the film definitely ramps up as they descend into the bunker that they quickly discover is an elaborate network of tunnels and laboratories where some unpleasant experiments have taken place. Still in the bunker is Kapitan Muller (Shaun Benson), who isn’t quite ready to abandon his experiments just yet.
What’s pretty cool is the parasite that has been created and causes those who are infected to turn into violent zombie-esque beings. The problem is we’re given an awesome setting with the dimly lit corridors of the bunker but simply not enough suspense-driven scenes with the infected characters. It seems kind of perfectly set up to have the characters marching into the darkness where they could be attacked at any moment, but the threat level is not utilized enough. Instead what we get is more a conflict between the troop investigating the bunker and the remaining Germans that are inside. This is kind of a case where less dialog and more dark corridors could have led to more.
The special effects are impressive as well; one sequence with a character taking a shotgun blast to the head is effective and leaves an impression. The design of the parasite and its movement is one of the nice creepy visuals that give it a real-world feel that it could actually exist, and we can believe it can easily transfer from one person to the next. The cinematography also plays a part in how well many of these effects are pulled off, along with helping add to the atmosphere.
What frustrated me most with the film is with its ending. Personally it just seemed a little too easy for all those involved, and I’d dare to say it was even a bit anticlimactic. This doesn’t mean I disliked the film; I just was hoping for a little bit more out of it. At the end of the day though, Trench 11 is still a fun little movie, and at 90 minutes it doesn’t drag or feel bloated.
For those wanting to know more about the film, check out the interview Gino had with the film’s co-writer and director, Leo Scherman.