Starring: Jamie Bell, Hugo Speer, Matthew Rhys, Laurence Fox, Andy Serkis, Dean Lennox
Pathe Distribution Ltd
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available now

1917 on the Western Front. Soldiers are sent over the top, among them Private Shakespeare, a frightened young man who has lied about his age to sign up. Many men are cut down by enemy fire, but a handful of survivors take a major German trench with very little opposition. They are mystified by the weight of dead bodies, many of which appear to have been killed by each other. Very soon Shakespeare comes to realise there is something intrinsically evil in the trench which revels in bloodshed and setting man against man...

It's a surprising and refreshing concept to set a horror film in the First World War; however, this example more closely explores the fears and emotions of the soldiers, than it does any supernatural perpetrator, and that's as it should be. In fact, there are few special effects, and when the barbed wire does take on a mind of its own, the CGI looks somewhat 'cartoony'.

This attempt to emulate Dog Soldiers ultimately both succeeds and fails on different levels. A depressing setting with interlinked trenches never entirely mapped-out in the viewer's mind, suitably creates the required claustrophobia. The early parts of the movie work well, with the enemy changing in stages from Germans, through loneliness and paranoia, to each other, manipulated by the permeating evil. The shortfalls in the plot and obvious budgetary restrictions means that the middle section consists of head-turning at sudden sounds, shooting off rounds into the darkness, and lots of running up and down the muddy trenches.

Any new British release gives increased hope for our reflowering film industry. Some of my favourite movies were low budget, but low budgets have to be compensated for with strong scripts and powerful acting. Deathwatch, although by no means bad fair, lacks those special moments or twists which get small films noticed.

Ty Power

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