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Deathwatch (2002)

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Plot Summary:
"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."

Review by
Steven Davies
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Review Date: 11 February 2004 My Rating: out of 5


Deathwatch is about nine good old British soldiers seeking refuge in German trenches during the first World War. It may sound a bit of an unusual set up for a horror movie but stay with me.

Some of you may remember another British war/horror movie (which incidentally was released just a few months before this) entitled 'The Bunker' where a group of German soldiers (albeit ALL with very English accents) are forced to take shelter during World War II in a, you guessed it, Bunker. And so strange things happen blah blah blah...Well Deathwatch is pretty much the same kind of thing, and it is curious how there are so many similarities between the two. But I did find 'The Bunker' a bit tedious and dull and at least this movie has some decent and over-the-top fun performances from the ensemble cast.

We have Billy Elliot's very own Jamie Bell in the lead role as nervous underage recruit Charlie Shakespeare. Also starring is the fabulous Andy Serkis, most recently giving phenemonal performances as the despicable Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Making up the rest of the cast we have Hugo Speer (The Full Monty), Laurence Fox (The Hole, Gosford Park), and Kris Marshall, mostly known by the British public for playing Nick Harper in the BBC sitcom 'My Family'. The cast do well considering the material they've been given to work with. Andy Serkis is once again as frightening as ever and Jamie and Hugo hold their own.

But is Deathwatch at all frightening? Well no, not really. It has a very Hellraiserish feel to the events that take place in the treches but alas does not even compare. Scares are few and far between and after watching the forementioned 'The Bunker' it all seems a little 'been there, done that'.

Being stuck in the trenches in the first World War is an unimaginable nightmare for all of us who have never experience anything remotely close to it. And this movie does give us a slight insight to this. That's why I think scrapping out the horror elements entirely from this picture, and concentrating more on the relationships and slow building insanity of some of the soldiers due to the intense situations of war would of been a better move. I always enjoy tight little thrillers with groups of people forced together that gives off that cabin fever vibe, much like Laurence Fox's earlier efforts in 2001's 'The Hole'.

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