Deathwatch (2002)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres: Horror, Supernatural Horror, War
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M.J. Bassett M.J. Bassett
Jamie Bell Jamie Bell
Rúaidhrí Conroy Rúaidhrí Conroy
Mike Downey Mike Downey
Laurence Fox Laurence Fox
Roman Horák Roman Horák

6.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: February 17, 2005
Deep in the heart of combat during World War I, a group of British soldiers are holed up in a trench. When the Germans start to swarm the group and take control of the trench, nine men, led up by Captain Jennings (Laurence Fox) and Sergeant Tate (Hugo Speer), manage to escape into the fog. They travel for quite some time, completely lost and surrounded by fog, until the come upon an enemy trench. Inside this trench is three enemy soldiers... one manages to escape, one is shot down, and the last surrenders to the British. The surrendering enemy doesn't speak English, but one of the soldiers by the name of Charlie Shakespeare (Jamie Bell) is able to communicate with him. The enemy tells the soldiers that they have to leave, and that this trench is evil. Of course, the soldiers laugh at him before beating him down and locking him up, but sixteen-year-old Shakespeare tries to get his fellow soldiers to take the advice of the enemy. Naturally, this doesn't go over too well, and the men get busy with setting up a defense inside this trench until help arrives to pull them all out of this mess. A defense perimeter is set up, the countless enemy corpses are stacked into a pile, and things seem to be working out... until, that is, the men start to turn on one another and sink into lunacy due to supernatural events that start to occur shortly after the soldiers arrival.

What we have here is a great storyline with a true shocker of an ending, wrapped up in a film that isn't quite executed properly. The problems found throughout are pretty damaging to the overall entertainment that the movie provides, but if you can get past those, the end result was pretty decent. One of the main problems that I had was the inclusion of a number of scenes that really had no relevance to the movie at hand. These scenes seemed to be here for the sole purpose of padding out the running time, and as a result, they managed to drag the movie down in numerous spots. The other problem, and this one may have just been me, was the way that the characters all seemed to blend into one another. The trench is full of mud and it's constantly raining throughout the film... couple this in with the fact that most of the characters (played by little-known actors) have nothing to set themselves apart from the rest, and the result of this is a number of scenes where it's quite difficult to tell what's going on due to not knowing who's who on-screen.

With these two negatives out of the way, the rest of the movie was pretty interesting. The atmosphere is built up very nicely thanks to a number of supernatural happenings that are nicely executed. The way that they're handled was one thing that I particularly enjoyed, but I'm sure that some would disagree. Instead of showing ghosts or demons coming out at the soldiers, almost all of the events that take place are based on sound alone. We'll have the characters in a nearly pitch-black environment, and then various things start to occur around them... and you can't see any of it, only hear it. In my personal opinion, this was a great way to go when combined with the claustrophobic atmosphere of the trench environment, and the end result was a number of damned fine scenes. This was director Michael J. Bassett's first film, and once the man gets some experience under his belt, I do believe that he will start to pop out some great offerings.

Although this movie does have some flaws, it's definitely worth a viewing if you're a fan of supernatural horror movies that require a bit of imagination. The ending, while quite similar to another movie which I won't reveal for fear of spoiling things, was one that was left up to the viewer to decide what happened. There's a number of possibilities, but the director never comes right out and says "this is what happened"; no sir, you have to do a bit of thinking, and that's always a good thing. 7/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 09/04/2007, 10:42 AM
I enjoyed this film quite a bit. Jamie Bell starring in the film was a shocker, and the cast was well-rounded, with some familiar faces. It had its own little mood and tone that it maintained. It reminded me of "Dead Birds", but set in a different time period. Solid film. 7/10.
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