Film Review: TRENCH 11 (Canada 2017) ***

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Trench 11 Poster

In the final days of WWI a shell-shocked soldier must lead a mission deep beneath the trenches to stop a German plot that could turn the tide of the war.


Leo Scherman


Matt BooiMatt Booi | 2 more credits »

TRENCH 11 is set in the year 1918, a year well known for being the year World War 1 ended.  There are a lot of interesting events occurring during the last year of a World War that makes good cinema.  The recent Hungarian film entitled 1945 is an example of another film set in the last year of a War.

But TRENCH 11 is a fictional horror film.  The premise is that those no-good Germans have been practicing scientific warfare again under our noses, in fact 78 feet underground in those trenches.  Some virus has gone loose and it must be contained or the outcome of the end of WWI might turn out quite differently.

At its worst, TRENCH 11 disintegrates into a zombie flesh-eating movie set in the trenches with cheap prosthetics effects, like a face with the nose eaten away.  The dialogue can turn clichéd too as in the example of the line spoken:  “This place was not built to keep people out.  It was built to keep people in.”

At best director Schermna uses the effects of the film’s setting to create real horror, as in the darkness and claustrophobia of the trenches.  The lighting is carefully done so that more often then not, only the essentials are seen – the faces as they peer through the corridors of the trenches.  There is always suspense created when a character turns the corner, as it is dark and no one can see what lurks there.  A few worthy scenes here such as throne with the German and Canadian sitting down to have a drink together,

Humour is provided by the German Officer Reiner, who wants to cleanse Europe by the disease.  Austria actor Robert Stadlober camps it up too, playing Rainer as a complete lunatic.  One can almost imagine the froth coming out of his mouth.  The main lead belongs to Rossif Sutherland (brother of Keifer and son of Donald Sutherland) playing a tunneller who is given the dauntless task of leading the group out of the trenches.  The script also calls for an asshole major.  Oblivious to good safety and common sense, he risks everyone’s lives.  ” We are here to complete a vitally important mission and by God I intend to see that it is done.”  He is disposed with early in the picture, which is a shame as he livens up the film.   The tunneller’s romance with a girl called Veronique (Karine Vanasse) is what spurs the tunneller on.  Director Scherman makes good use of  the dynamics of the different forces (Americans, British, Canadian).

The zombies or Germans infected with the deadly disease are scary enough, if one can strain through the darkness to catch a glimpse of them.  What is even more disgusting are the parasitic worms that wiggle in and out of the corpses’ wounds.  The worms are thin and squirmy (as opposed to fat and juicy), still guaranteed to make ones skin crawl.

TRENCH 11 ends up a scary enough horror movie with interesting characters making effective use of its World War setting.  The film has won rave  reviews when it was premiered at the After Dark Film Festival in Toronto.



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Film Review: DARKEN (Canada 2017) **

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Darken Poster
A nurse finds herself in a dark and mysterious world.


Audrey Cummings


RJ Lackie

The words at the beginning of tho new Telefilm Canada horror film DARKEN tells the audience: DARKEN is the resting sanctuary for all souls – whatever that means.  Darken is set in a bizarre, mysterious, and violent unknown world supposedly set with danger and death around every corner.  

Mother Darken appears to be the God in some alternative universe or different dimension.  Her high priestess, Clarity (Christine Horne) and oddball looking and acting assistant, Martin (Ari Millen) accuse a member of their religious sect of betrayal.  When the betrayer admits her guilt, she is stabbed and pushed out a door out of this universe.

A nurse, Eve (Bea Santos) helps the wounded girl, but ends up entering DARKEN through a one-way door.

Eve finds a violent prison-like world of labyrinthine rooms, interconnected with no apparent rhyme or reason and no way of escape.  If all this sounds weird and unbelievable – it is! As she fights for survival within this brutal place, she finds allies who are rebelling against the rule of a self-appointed religious despot who demands allegiance to the all-powerful god called “Mother Darken.”  Eve and the exiles, as they are called must fight with everything they have if they are to have any hope of surviving the horrors Darken has in store for them.  The exiles are told that they have to keep moving.  But apparently, they are moving nowhere – and getting to nowhere fast.  And again when one exile is wounded, Eve (humorously) says:” We need to move her now.”  

The film plays like a children’s playground game adults that have forgotten to grow up indulge.  The fight scenes are executed for more gore and violence that excitement.  Lots of pain are inflicted on the wounded.

Olunike Adeliyi playing an exile, Kali deserves an acting award for the most over-acting performance in a movie this year.  She demonstrates how to act with her eyeballs, nose, lips and grimaces.   The dialogue is terribly silly: “Mother (Darken) is terribly upset!”  “Whenever I turn my back, they always disobey me.”  “Mother is so angry with us.”  – being a few examples.  The character Clarity is exceptionally good at giving orders and doing nothing.  The exiles use lighters that they somehow have, to light their way in the darkness though none of them smoke.

Prior to the film’s theatrical release, the producers Shaftesbury had released an 11-part digital prequel series, Darken: Before the Dark on YouTube, taking audiences deep inside the fantastic otherworld of DARKEN.  The audience is presented here with multiple points of entry on a range of platforms to build a world around the film. With DARKEN, audiences can watch the digital series, connect and discuss on social, immerse themselves via the VR experience, see the film on the big screen, or pre-order it to re-watch at home

DARKEN went on to win Best Science Fiction Feature at Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival, Best Fantasy Feature at Motor City Nightmares International Film Festival, and won four awards at Blood In The Snow Festival including Best Director and Best Cinematography.  Whatever all these awards mean, DARKEN is not a very good horror film – overacted, overdone, unbelievable story – a textbook case of maximum effort and minimum results.  But DARKEN is recommended for its unintentional humour!




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