War is hell. There’s no way around that one. That’s why there are so many films in the horror genre that dip their toes in the war movie genre. We’ve really seen a recent uptick in war horror movies being released. Although, most of those have been World War II set films. Trench 11 sets itself apart by being set in World War I.
Trench 11 follows a solider who works as a tunneler for the Canadian army. After narrowly escaping a tunnel collapse, he is roped back into an underground mission by the British army. Along with the aid of American soldiers, the group burrows into an underground German lab where deadly viral experiments have been concealed.
The plot may seem like nothing new, but there are several elements at play here that separate Trench 11 from the current crop of war set horror films. Along with the aforementioned World War I setting, which gives a nice textured, older-than-we’re-used-to-seeing look, the film features a tense, claustrophobic location. Once the action sets everything into place, all feels hopeless for our main characters.
Sifting through this nihilism, our six main leads and their two German foils deliver some top notch performances. The group is lead by Rossif Sutherland, who looks like a perfect mash-up of Dan Aykroyd and Josh Brolin. He’s the strongest performer in a cast of great actors.
Another characteristic of the film that sets it above others in the genre is its unflinching violence. The gore in this film is incredible. There is some truly skin crawling effects by way of the heartworm-like parasites. The surgery scene that ultimately reveals the slimy creatures had me squirming in my seat. That’s not all, though. There are headshots and bites that lead to some effectively great gore scenes as well. There’s some real unforgettable stuff here.
My one complaint about the movie has to do with the pacing early on. While I enjoyed the character development, I thought the breaths taken between “horror” scenes dragged on a little too long. The movie pays off the slow pace early on building to a very effective and tense climax. I was on the edge of my seat for the last 25 minutes of the run time.
Overall, I though Trench 11 was different enough in the war horror genre to make a name for itself. The gore was absolutely spectacular and there are some fantastic performances throughout. Stick with it through its slow opening and it will pay off with a marvelously tense finale.
Trench 11 is available on DVD and Digital HD from RLJE Films on Tuesday September 4th and it is recommended.