Trench 11 Review: Brutal World War Horror That Goes Straight for The Jugular

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Trench 11 is a Canadian horror film set during the first World War and directed by Leo Scherman. Starring Rossif Sutherland, Robert Stadlober, Charlie Carrick, Shaun Benson, Ted Atherton and Karine Vanasse, the film hits Canadian theaters August 31, 2018 via Raven Banner with a US release planned later via RLJ Entertainment. Trench 11 hits VOD September 4, 2018. 

trench 11 poster

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.


trench 11 showdown

There’s a close-range shotgun blast to someone’s face early into this film, that was so jarring, realistic and horrifying that it perked me right up in my seat and from that moment on I was glued to the screen, uncertain what horrors awaited me but positive that I wanted to relish in all of Trench 11’s brutal world war horror. The idea of combining war and horror is not a new one, but director Leo Scherman crafted this little independent film with so much love and appreciation for the genre that he managed to create a brilliant slice of Canadian cinema that can sit comfortably beside other classics from my homeland such as Turbo Kid, Wolf Cop and Hobo With a Shotgun. However, unlike those other grindhouse romps, Trench 11 is serious as Hell. The film is not slapstick horror and there is very little to laugh at here as Scherman’s brutal world war horror flick opts to play the story straight for the jugular.

Trench 11 - German Soldier - Hi-Res_preview

Set in the early 1900’s during the first World War, we get some brilliant time-period dialog including a line that made me laugh at first when leading actor Rossif Sutherland tells his wife that Winnipeg is more beautiful than France. Look – you know what? Sure. That’s a Canadian moment to be proud of. There’s also a scene where some of the soldiers take cocaine because it was included in their rations in order to get them pumped up. You gotta love the early 1900’s. For a movie with a low budget, Trench 11 didn’t look the price. The costumes, fantastic special effects and performances all led me to believe I was watching a genuine blockbuster horror film about Nazi experiments gone wrong underground.  Producer Tyler Levine and his production company Carousel Pictures did a brilliant job filming this movie in Winnipeg, Canada. Although most of Trench 11 takes place in dark tunnels, there are some gorgeous above-ground shots that looked stunning. Canadian winter may hurt like a bitch, but it looks beautiful onscreen.

trench 11 autopsy

Berton is our main hero, played by  Rossif Sutherland and he does a remarkable job portraying someone who is absolutely OVER this fighting shit, but is forced to take on this insane new surveillance mission to investigate the German army’s motives for setting up such a massive underground base. The film unfolds slowly, but because of the precise pacing, the tension is so thick that when something violent occurs, the eruption of nasty special effects is all the more effective. There are some crazy-good gags here, including gun blasts to the face and a leg-break that made me cringe. But the most memorable of these nightmares comes in the form of the most disgusting autopsy sequence I’ve seen in some time, where the soldiers dissect and crank open one of the dead infected humans to discover the world’s most volatile noodle salad. The wriggly white worms that occupy their violent hosts in Trench 11 owe a lot to Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Strain’, but they do the job here with some grotesque practical effects that made me smile and cringe at the same time. Francois Dagenais gave Trench 11 some of his best effects work yet and that’s saying something.

trench 11 trailer

Scherman’s film hit all the right notes for me and not just the simple ones, which include some great action set pieces and shocking kills that come out of nowhere. What really took me by surprise were the human moments these soldiers shared in those grim and barely lit caverns, knowing that at any moment, something terrifying could pop up and either infect them too or chew their face off. The only criticism I have of Trench 11, is that I wish it were another 20 minutes longer. The film is an air-right 1 hr 25 minutes and I would’ve loved seeing the climactic escape sequence be more drawn out, but that’s just me loving the movie too much and craving more. If you’re a fan of horror thrillers like The Descent then you must check this one out when it hits Cineplex theaters August 31st for a VERY limited run. You won’t regret it.

Rating:

Opens Across Canada – August 31
for 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
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