In the middle of World War I, nine British soldiers caught behind enemy lines seek refuge in a complex network of German trenches. What they soon discover is that they aren't alone - and it isn't a German soldier that's hunting them down.
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A ruthless mercenary renounces violence after learning his soul is bound for hell. When a young girl is kidnapped and her family slain by a sorcerer's murderous cult, he is forced to fight and seek his redemption slaying evil.
Michael J. Bassett
Max von Sydow,
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In 1917, in the Western front, a group of survivors of the British Company Y reach the most forward German trench in a foggy night. They capture a German soldier that advises that evil is in the trench, forcing the soldiers to kill each other, and asks them to leave the place. Only the private Charlie Shakespeare listens and helps the prisoner, while a supernatural force scares and makes the soldiers insane. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Three quarters of the dialogue had to be rerecorded in post-production. See more »
They referred to 'The Lambeth Walk' when saying to the stretcher case - "We'll soon have you doing 'The Lambeth Walk'". This song was not written until about 1937 for the show "Me and My Gal". It was sung, and danced in World War II. See more »
Although much-hyped as a horror film during production, 'Deathwatch' obviously shifted tone substantially in post-production towards a depiction of the everyday horrors of the Great War and seems all the better for it. Although there are vague similarities to Michael Mann's disappointing 'The Keep' and its truly dreadful British rip-off 'The Bunker,' this is both more ambitious and successful than either. A more accurate comparison would be to John Ford's rarely revived 'The Lost Patrol,' where a group of soldiers lost in the desert turn on each other as their situation worsens.
The production design is for the most part impeccable: unlike the studio-bound and cliche-ridden 'The Trench,' this offers one of the most realistic screen recreations of trench life at its worst, rats and all. Where the opening battle sequence never quite seems intense enough, the mundane realities of surviving daily life in what is little more than an open grave leave a lasting impression.
There are problems: some of the attitudes are wrong for the period, as are occasional lines of dialogue (such as references to then-nonexistent holiday camps or contemporary slang such as 'plank'). It's not even remotely frightening, and only begins to chill with its oddly touching ending (which bears more than a little similarity to a famed Bruce Joel Rubin script, the title of which would ruin the ending for anyone who hasn't seen it). But, unlike most British efforts of recent years, it is a real film with ambition and a sense of scale that deserved better at the box-office and is well worth a look.
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