Taking the war drama and adding a horror-style twist, this indie thriller from director Leo Scherman is better than it sounds thanks to its balance of the genres.
It is 1918, near the end of World War I. When Allied forces have learned that the German forces have built underground bunkers in an attempt to create new methods of weaponry to overcome the forces, they decide to check it out. They also plan to look for the crazed madman behind these experiments, Reiner, known as “The Doctor”. However, the group will need to find an expert in the underground tunnels who knows their way and can help out.
Enter Berton, a Canadian soldier who three months ago, made a narrow but successful escape from a German bunker, even after the German forces have forced an explosion in the bunker, killing almost all but Berton. Berton was set to end the war and be with his French girlfriend, Veronique. However, forced to join the Allied for this mission, the group successfully enters the bunker, but they will experience something they never expected and something extremely horrifying. Will they be able to escape the bunker when one of their own are infected by a created parasite that incites violent rage?
The duo of Leo Scherman and Matthew Booi have come up with a very interesting concept for a thriller by setting the film in World War II and unleashing the idea of bringing a deadly parasite that causes its victim to become an deadly violent person with the tendency to kill. Interestingly enough, the use of German Axis powers doing horror style violence would usually be depicted during the Third Reich regime of World War II, so to set this during the first World War brings something a little fresh and different.
The film is driven by the performance of lead Rossif Sutherland, who plays the PTSD-stricken Berton, who in the film’s opening sequence, is seen attempting to escape an underground bunker and narrowly does so. While he relives some of his past and even is seen after the opening as a hard drinker who is in love, Sutherland gives Berton a sense of depth in his role as someone reliving a nightmare that has now been amplified with the presence of a created “rage parasite” from the German forces.
If there is one thing that lies within the film’s theme, it is the topic of discrimination. The leading forces of the mission are British and during their meeting, they tend to look down on Americans and yet bring up the fact Berton is Canadian. Ted Atherton’s Jennings, the commanding officer, is truly an authoritative type who tends to abuse his power now and again, making the viewer wanting him to get his from the getgo.
While the German forces are considered the enemy as it was in real life during World War I, there is a sense of breakage in the form of character Müller, played by Shaun Benson. Müller is a sympathetic soldier who relates to Berton and doesn’t approve of the methods from the insane Reiner, played by Robert Stadlober, eventually becoming Berton’s only hope to help him get over the nightmare that plagues everyone.
The horror violence is quite well done here, despite a few riffs of cheap CGI effects during a shootout. However, for the most part, they are quite well done and take a more practical effect that they look as if they depict the results of war violence. Sometimes, the results may not be for the weak stomach types, and in the case of one infected, the victim undergoes a physical transformation that looks like something that could come out of The Toxic Avenger or The Goonies’ Sloth. And yet, the film’s beats of violence works well overall.
Trench 11 is a pretty good meshing of war drama and horror film. It holds a balance between the dramas and a good performance by Rossif Sutherland.
WFG RATING: B
RLJE Films and Raven Banner Entertainment presents a Carousel Pictures production. Director: Leo Scherman. Producer: Tyler Levine. Writers: Leo Scherman and Matthew Booi. Cinematography: Dylan Macleod. Editing: Mike Munn.
Cast: Rossif Sutherland, Shaun Benson, Ted Atherton, Adam Hurtig, Luke Humphrey Jeff Strome, Robert Stadlober, Werner Artinger, Karine Vanasse, Charlie Carrick, John B. Lowe.