Cast: Rossif Sutherland, Robert Stadlober, Ted Atherton, Charlie Carrick
Directed by: Leo Scherman
Written by: Batt Booi, Leo Scherman
Running time: 90 minutes
Mixing war action with zombies has become a rather frequent sub-genre of the zombie film in the past decade or so which brings us to Trench 11. Set within the final days of World War I, British Intelligence discovers that the Germans have built a huge complex of underground tunnels behind the frontlines in France and then hastily abandoned. Concerned that the Germans may have been using the facility in the creation of chemical weapons, they send in a small team consisting of a pair of British officers, a Canadian tunneler, and a group of American soldiers as escort on a reconnaissance mission to find out what they were up to.
Meanwhile, the Germans, having failed to destroy the complex, send back a team to finish the job. As the team of allies delves deeper into the maze of tunnels they find out that the experiments the Germans were more horrific than they had feared. They soon find themselves battling not only normal enemy troops but also German soldiers infected by a weaponized parasite which turns them into blood frenzied killers.
The infected in Trench 11 are not zombies in the traditional sense, i.e. undead who crave flesh but rather a combination of films like 28 Days Later and the TV show, The Strain. It initially makes for an effective bit of horror and panic. The team quickly becomes lost in the maze and surrounded by the infected. Unfortunately Director Leo Scherman then mucks things up by having the German soldiers return to the complex. This effectively puts the “zombies” on the sidelines and into a backup role as the antagonists.
The movie’s action screeches to a halt and there’s a lot of chatting and preening by the lead German Scientist, Reiner. We get it, you’re a bad guy. I didn’t need the 20 minutes of boring dialog to convince me. It’s a shame, too, as up until this point Trench 11 was surprisingly well-made and an effective horror film. For a small budget the movie features solid performances from a mostly little known yet veteran group of actors.
I will credit Scherman and Cinematographer Dylan Macleod for making this look like an “A” feature on a limited budget. The claustrophobic terror of the dark corridors makes for a creepy atmosphere. One just wishes that this had truly been played out as a survival horror with the allied troops fighting for their lives against the infected while trying to complete their mission. It could have been a minor gem. As it is, it is just passable.