Though Trench 11 is certainly flawed, it’s still entertaining enough.
Synopsis: Northern France, 1918. World War One is reaching its bloody climax and the end can’t come soon enough for Canadian tunneller Berton. His superiors, however, need his expertise to get a team of British and American allies inside a secret underground German base. It seems that the Germans have lost control of a highly contagious biological weapon they were developing that turns its victims into mindless killers. Berton and his team soon find themselves 100 feet underground with hordes of the infected, a rapidly spreading disease, and a platoon of Stormtroopers dispatched to wipe them out. (Raven Banner Releasing)
Starring: Rossif Sutherland, Karine Vanasse, and Charlie Carrick
Writers: Matt Booi and Leo Scherman
Director: Leo Scherman
Rating: 14A (Canada)
Running Time: 90mins
Trench 11 is a small scale horror film directed by Canadian director Leo Scherman. It may not be a perfect film but for what it is, it’s entertaining enough to keep audiences engaged throughout its entire 90 minute runtime. The atmosphere created by Scherman is certainly commendable, given the constraints he had on the budget for this film.
Let’s start with the positives. The effects are realistic, and add to the horror of the film’s premise. It uses gore in a restrained, and effective way, never becoming exploitive. Anyone that sees this film is bound to expect some gore, and they will be pleasantly surprised. It sets up the atmosphere very well, with multiple scenes leading up to the discovery of the unknown entities that reside in Trench 11. The methods used to build up suspense are just as good as any other horror film. It makes you feel claustrophobic, tense and nervous for the first half of the film.
Yet, Trench 11 never feels like it pays off for making the audience wait. There are a few glimpses of the virus spreading, but they are not nearly enough to draw the viewer into the horror that the characters are experiencing. It builds up to the reveal of the virus very well, but once it reaches that point, it kind of falls flat. The vital ingredient that makes films like this, such as Alien, great is an antagonist that seems to never go away. Trench 11 lets the virus off a little too easy, and it would’ve been great to see more infected people roaming the trench. It’s certainly disappointing, given how well Scherman builds up to that moment, as the audience is expecting to see an antagonistic virus.
The side plot between the Germans and the British is significantly duller than the main plot. Viewers feel cheated by the sudden rotation in the story, as the film spends a good chunk of time building up to the virus. The sense of impending doom wears off a little bit, as we realize that the real challenge will be between the two armies, rather than the virus. The ending, which is disappointingly anti-climatic, adds to this feeling.
Although Trench 11 isn’t a bad film, it’s not one that many people are going to rushing to watch again. The plot, which resembles that of The Thing and Alien, is fairly standard. What Scherman does change doesn’t really work. The parts about the virus, though, are entertaining enough to keep the audience engaged and nervous about what will happen to the characters. The conclusion feels a little bit too easy, and the German subplot detracts from the main experience.
Overall, Trench 11 will at least entertain you, if nothing else. There is enough gore and suspense to keep you interested, but likely won’t achieve much more than that.
*Trench 11 will open in theatres on August 31st for a one-week engagement in the following cities:
Toronto – Cineplex Yonge & Dundas
Montreal – Cineplex Latin Quarter
Côte Saint-Luc – Cineplex Odeon Cavendish Mall
Vancouver – Cineplex Park Theatre
Winnipeg – Cineplex Odeon McGillivray
Calgary – Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire
Halifax – Cineplex Cinemas Parklane
Ottawa – The Mayfair Cinema*