Starring: Jamie Bell, Hugo Speer, Matthew Rhys, Laurence Fox, Andy Serkis & Dean Lennox
Pathe Distribution
RRP: 17.99
Certificate: 15
Available now

At the height of the terror of WWI, the few survivors of an English regiment, trapped behind enemy lines, take refuge in a deserted German trench, waiting to be rescued. But when no help arrives, one by one they begin to suffer mysterious and gruesome fates. Slowly, a terror beyond all human understanding is unleashed. Is the trench possessed by something even more terrible than the war that surrounds them or does some other unknown evil wait to claim them all?...

Deathwatch was one of those movies that I had intended to see when it was released theatrically. But, for one reason or another, never managed to get around to. The movie is a sort of cross genre between horror and sci-fi, with the emphasis on horror.

It's your typical 'spooky monster offs our heroes one by one' plot, but setting it during WWI is inspired and the claustrophobic feeling that the trench walls provide is impressive.

An impressive cast give first rate performances. Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) and Laurence Fox (The Hole) run around the trenches screaming, swearing and blowing things up and you are never sure whether they are already dead, trapped on some alternate reality or hallucinating due to a gas attack. This ambiguity helps lift this movie onto a higher plateau - it really does treat the audience with a little more respect than most Hollywood blockbusters.

The disc also comes equipped with a very impressive collection of extras including three audio commentaries; Featurette; Deleted/alternate scenes; Original theatrical trailer; Behind the scenes footage; and interviews with cast and crew.

All three commentaries are worth listening too. Michael J Bassett is wonderfully frank about the problems he had in making this movie and how he was overruled on more than one occasion. And do you know what? If Bassett had been left alone to edit the movie he envisaged it would have been a whole lot better.

There are a number of alternate scenes included, which Bassett had to change because those higher up the food chain didn't like. Sadly, on almost every occasion, Bassett's original vision was the better one. And it was a shame that there was not more cash available as Quinn's original death would have been a sight to see - there is a rough alternate cut on the DVD.

However, Bassett does tell us a little more than we need to know. For example during the masturbating scene he mentions that he had problems keeping it in the movie. He goes on to explain how if he was away from his family for so long that's what he would have done. Yes, thanks Michael for that piece of scary information.

As his first movie, Deathwatch is an intriguing start for Bassett. Watch out for his name cropping up again in the future - where hopefully he'll have more artistic control.

The movie is far from perfect, but with such a small budget to play with it is remarkable that this movie is half as good as it is.

Nick Smithson

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