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.
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
Jamie Bell originally whistled "It's a Long Way to Tipperary," but the rights to this particular song proved to be too expansive so it was changed to "Silent Night, Holy Night" in post-production. See more »
In the abandoned trench, the Sergeant berates his men by saying, "...this isn't a holiday camp." Although the notion of a "holiday camp" existed in Britain as early as 1897, it was not until the opening of the first Butlins at Skegness in 1937 that the term entered general usage. See more »
"Death Watch" walks a very fine line while taking itself far too seriously, especially considering the bleak backdrop of WWI under which the movie is set. I watched this film sheerly under the recommendation of its horror-military genre connection to "Dog Soldiers". With that said, if you are looking for something like "Dog Soldiers", please do not watch this movie. They are too very different animals.
Which isn't to say "Death Watch" is bad purely on the grounds that it is not "Dog Soldiers". "Death Watch" is a very taunt and atmospheric movie, and the surreal and gritty layout of the text make us fear attack from any direction.
The film follows a group of British soldiers who capture a German trench and then attempt to hold the trench in the wake of not only an incompetent officer, but also a series of inexplicably strange events that push all involved to the edge of sanity. Soon, a rookie soldier, nick-named Shakespeare, begins to wonder if his squad is being driven insane by isolation and shell-shock, or something far more sinister.
Every man in Y-Company seems to have some sort of defining flaw. Shakespeare's flaw seems to be his cowardice. But instead of endearing this character to our own insecurities, the filmmakers only succeed in push Shakespeare away from us with his perpetual whininess. No one else is given as much due as Shakespeare. Other characters live and die in a heartbeat, without too much grief, but Shakespeare seems to be set up to be the emotional weight of the story, which the script ironically seems downright afraid to achieve.
As mentioned above, the movie walks a very fine line. It takes itself at times far too seriously, with no real breaks in between for relief and only little more for laughter. Soon, the bloody plights of the soldiers are played for cheap thrills, and the end result feels more than a little shoddy for exploiting the horror of World War One for such aims.
The mystery of the trench never lets up, even after the final shot. You leave the movie with an idea of what happened, but like most things in this movie, very little else. This isn't to say the movie isn't worth seeing - its scary and very moody, and a far cry from generic Hollywood horror. But by the same merit, this movie isn't something to go out of your war for. Despite all this movie has to offer, between atmosphere and suspense, there's no real payback in sight, at least on the Western Front.
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