Rossif Sutherland, son of Donald Sutherland, stars in the passable, World War I adventure/horror film, “Trench 11”. The movie is directed by Leo Scherman, who worked with David Cronenberg as an assistant trainee director on “Existenz” (1998). “Trench 11” is distributed by Toronto-based Raven Banner Entertainment, who specialize in edgy genre films.
The movie is set in 1918 France, during the closing days of World War I. At Battalion Headquarters, British Intelligence officers, Major Jennings (Ted Atherton) and Dr. Priest (Charlie Carrick) inform high command that the Germans have built a huge underground trench bunker in the Argonne Forest called the Wotan Compound. This bunker has three to four levels and is almost a hundred feet deep. Jennings explains that the Compound is where scientist, Reiner (Robert Stadlober) has been conducting bio-weapons research on diseases like Anthrax, Influenza and even the Bubonic Plague. In their hasty retreat, the Germans abandoned the bunker. Jennings wants to lead a special mission to retrieve any valuable research documents or scientific finds found at the Compound.
The special mission is composed of two British Intelligence officers, three American soldiers and one Canadian tunneler, Lt. Berton (Rossif Sutherland). Berton is an experienced tunnel rat, who has been sent previously on numerous assignments to dig beneath enemy lines and plant explosives. Once the team arrives at the Wotan Compound, they rappel into the bunker. As they proceed, they encounter violently deranged German soldiers, who immediately start biting and vomiting a liquid discharge at them. Meanwhile on the German front, Reiner is instructed by his superiors to go back, kill all the infected soldiers and blow up the bunker.
This movie has a unique premise, a horror film set in the trenches during World War I. The only other film with a similar setting would be “Deathwatch” (2002). In that film, a group of British soldiers explore haunted German trenches.
“Trench 11” fails to capture the claustrophobic underground atmosphere required. The sets are simply repetitive tunnels with wooden walls. The movie also feels like an adventure story overlaid with horror elements from films like “28 Weeks Later” (2007). Even the horror elements are fairly tame for 2019, for example when dissecting a dead soldier, the allies discover the body is infested with parasitic worms, which to the audience looks more like dried spaghetti.
A European director might have better captured the isolation and fear of being trapped in utter darkness. In addition, the modern electronic score used is anachronistic and ineffective in expressing the dread the soldiers face.
If the World War I setting peaks your interest, you may want to consider digitally renting, “Trench 11”. However, there are better options for horror and adventure fans.