Trench 11 is a film of meat and potatoes in several respects. Visually, it consists mostly of a group of men shining dim yellow lights onto the dusty walls of underground tunnels. Claustrophobic, but only ever revealing the limitations of production budget, the possible credo of “keeping it simple” keeps things from seeming too stupid. i.e. Knowing that “less can be more” is an asset when your resources prove less than bountiful. The film’s premise is likewise – the simple and unadorned yarn of a group of military men who must investigate, and subsequently escape from, an underground base housing the aftermath of havoc wreaked by Nazi war experiments. Tailored for a stripped down and slow-burning survival tale, Trench 11’s best moments offer impressive effects-work, flashes of inspired composition, and an unpretentious approach to genre filmmaking. But to what end?
I applaud the success in rising above the wasteland of what seems to be our contemporary genre platter. Trench 11 is certainly a cut above, say, the most recent Walter Hill film – which is vaguely indicative of something. In desperation to not sound pessimistic I’m always looking for positives in independent or low budget film work, but obviously miscalculated decisions can derail my otherwise near-boundless enthusiasm. The film’s primary human antagonist, seemingly a cheap and blatant re-write of Christoph Waltz’s iconic Hans Landa, shines the most damning light on the film’s tendency to fall short of its mark. But this is also a film with a fondness for legitimately icky bone-breaking, nose-eating, and brain-splattering – all executed with a depraved glee that will surely delight long-time exploitation and horror cinema addicts (even if in modest doses).
Films like Trench 11 may be doomed to languish in the unhallowed digital halls of VOD services, which is a shame, I suppose. The film certainly isn’t a stunning enough picture to prompt me to sing praises from the rooftops – but it obviously exhibits a sincere love of filmmaking and illustrates enough of a potential towards tighter pictures in the future for its talented cast and crew. However strange it feels to commend a film for being better than bad films, I can’t think of a more adequate way to recommend the overall middling Trench 11: in an over-saturated market it’s at least good enough to be seen.
Trench 11 is available on digital and DVD on September 4th.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Leo Scherman
Writer(s): Matt Booi, Leo Scherman
Stars: Rossif Sutherland, Robert Stadlober, and Charlie Carrick
Release: August 7, 2018 (Blu-ray)
Studio/ Production Co: Carousel Pictures, Raven Banner Entertainment