Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Deathwatch (2011) UK/Germany

Unless I purposely go and make a list for one of my zombie fests or some other craptacular I really don't assemble lists of movies - sometimes I just get a couple in a row. While this one is set in WWI, it still is mud and blood and death. Instead of plague, they just had the simple things like rain, cold, mud and nerve gas. Easy. <insert massive sarcasm here> I usually stay away from war movies (unless there's zombies) but this one sounded - unusual. 

The description says an 'unidentified and otherworldly' enemy slowly picks off this group of English soldiers. Like war isn't scary enough. Being in a trench and being told to 'go over the top' even though you know that probably means you're gonna die in the next ten seconds is not my idea of a good time.

And this is what happens as mainly seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Private 1st Class Shakespeare, who had lied about his age to enlist. He's scared spitless and that's totally understandable, especially, when among constant barrages of explosions, the rain, the mud and the barbed wire they are commanded to go over the top. He freezes but is pushed on and finds a place to cower as shellfire is all around them.

Then night goes away. It is day and the men wear their gas masks as a thick fog surrounds them. They find out by accident that it IS only fog, and they can take off their masks. And find themselves right in German territory - before them is a maze of German trenches with a handful of seemingly terrified German soldiers hiding within. 

It's war so they shoot several, the rest scattering. The surviving English soldiers go about securing the trench - in the constant rain, mud and weirdly messed up bodies piled here and there. Some seem torn apart, others burned, others... don't even look human anymore. Everything is completely covered in thick mud.

No this is not a pleasant movie. It gets worse. A... thing seems to be tracking them and even the mud and barbed wire seem to be coming alive. They set off charges to blow... whatever is outside the trench. They hear a deep growling and don't notice that the earth itself seems to bleed.

This is also a movie that does not try to wrap everything in a neat package. War is hell and so is this movie. About hell I mean. For them. They die off one by one by... horrible means from an unseen enemy. The one German named Friedrich they've kept as a prisoner can't help them - he speaks some French as does the 16-year-old Shakespeare but there's not a lot to tell or learn except that they will kill each other because there is 'evil in the trenches'. They find a radio but cannot communicate - the only noise they can hear is another company saying that the listeners have been killed. They scream into the radio that they are still alive - but are they?

In their frustration, they all torture Friedrich - all except for Shakespeare, who hates what they're doing and tries to stop them but of course no one listens and they continue to abuse the German. Night comes and they hear the sounds of war but see nothing and no bullets or people try to enter the trenches. Convinced it's the Germans they again set off charges to destroy parts of the trenches - again, unseen, blood spills from the ground.

The rest of the group get seriously paranoid (for good reason) and they indeed begin to turn on each other. And torture Friedrich. Finally as they are about to kill him Shakespeare manages to cut him loose, but not before being forced to go against his own company - just as Friedrich told him. He hands Friedrich a gun to defend himself and eventually he is the last English soldier standing - then a big sink hole appears where they piled the dozens of bodies found and made and barbed wire moves to block off every exit. 

Shakespeare cannot escape, and is sucked down with all the others. In a scene they don't explain, he sees his whole company, including himself, quite alive - and while they look at him they don't speak or acknowledge him. Screaming that he is still alive he manages to get back to the surface where he finds Friedrich, with the rifle he gave him pointed in his direction. 

He shouts at the German in English and French that he tried to help him. Then Friedrich says, in perfect English, that yes, he was the ONLY one who tried to help him and tells him to leave. He turns to leave then looks back at Friedrich, who has disappeared. He gets out and goes off to... we don't know what.

The last scene is of a group of German soldiers appearing at the lip of the trench, shouting at Friedrich, who is facing the camera. They tell him to surrender which he does, with a knowing look.

Make a lot of sense? Maybe not. Show that war is hell? Oh yeah. Interesting? Yeah, pretty well made actually.