British war horror movie
made in 2002. It was the directorial debut of Michael J. Bassett, who later went on to direct the movie Solomon Kane
Set during World War One
, a group of British soldiers "go over the top" in an assault against German lines. However, in the middle of the battle, a mysterious fog descends upon the battlefield and the night suddenly turns into day. Hours later, they finally stumble upon the German trenches only to find a mere 3 German soldiers, petrified and pointing their guns down their own trenches. The British soldiers call for them to surrender, but the Germans are more scared of something in the trench than them. After murdering two of them and torturing the third, the British troops begin exploring the trench, only to find the bodies of more Germans, seemingly killed by friendly fire. Even stranger, the trenches seem to lead nowhere, simply doubling back on themselves. With a prisoner babbling about demons, impenetrable fog, and a broken radio, they quickly form a defensive position and wait for reinforcements that never come.
Though their radio can't send messages, it can still receive
them. High command seems rather sure that the attack failed and there were no survivors....
Needless to say, things go downhill from there.
This movie provides examples of:
- A Date with Rosie Palms: All Starinski wanted...
- Anachronism Stew: Not very overt, but there are some inconsistencies. The Lee-Enfield rifles wielded by the soldiers are a later, WWII-era version of the model (the WWI version being harder to come by). But the most obvious example by far is the surprisingly small radio receiver they find and repair. No country had military or civilian radios that small and advanced during WWI. It would fit better in the 1920s. In addition, most of the German rifles are actually WWII-era Kar98k's.
- Regards the SMLE, the WW1 version (the No.1 Mk III or Mk III*) is not difficult to come by at all: the Australians went on making them until after World War 2.
- Ax-Crazy/Blood Knight: Quinn (Andy Serkis) is about as Axe Crazy as a character can get.
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Jennings and Tate fit this, but it's subverted by Tate being somewhat more sympathetic and A Father to His Men than Jennings.
- Clueless Aesop
- Daylight Horror: Most of the movie, but the night scenes are almost equally long as the day ones and the daylight itself is consistently gloomy.
- Death by Sex: Starinski, almost. But only with himself.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Averted, even though it's not a war movie in the traditional sense.
- Fog of Doom: Hey, it's World War One. Fog of Doom is already all over the damn place.
- Foreshadowing: Connected to the Fog of Doom above. The protagonists were fighting off the Germans from their trench in the middle of the night, but got knocked out and awoke in a somewhat different location, surrounded completely by thick fog. And the night suddenly changed to day time. One or two of the characters even lampshade the unusualness of this.
- Gainax Ending
- Genre Blindness: Both played straight and averted.
- Karmic Death: Most of the cast, who are each shown to be morally flawed (or just unlucky) in some way, are shown to get their comeuppance in various gruesome ways. Especially Quinn. *shudder*
- Last Name Basis: A subversion, since in the script and credits, the characters are mentioned by their full names. But the only personal name used on screen regularly is Charlie's.
- Let's Split Up, Gang: Despite blowing up the approaches to their trench to limit the space they have to defend, the squad never seem to be within sight, earshot, or running distance of each other when anything happens, and stationary, presumably vulnerable characters like Chevasse and the prisoner go unguarded and unmentioned for long stretches of the film. Unsurprisingly, this results in a Dwindling Party.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The whole haunting and supernatural phenomenna going on in the abandoned trench. Including living barbed-wire.
- Mercy Kill: Charlie does this to Chevasse after he discovers rats are eating his legs.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent/What the Hell Is That Accent?: Is Bradford supposed to be Canadian or British ?
- Nothing Is Scarier: The earlier portions of the movie, before the squad members start getting killed off in mysterious ways by unknown forces or themselves under suspicious coincidences.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Averted by Jennings and Tate, both of them enormous JerkAsses. This trope is also double subverted by Tate, since he's oficially a sergeant and acts pretty jerky, but shows some signs of being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Only Sane Man: Charlie and, to a questionable extent, private Chevasse and doc Fairweather.
- Our Ghosts Are Different
- Psychological Horror/Surreal Horror: It's implied that, rather than 'crazy unexplained barbed-wire magic', the cause of the company's fate may have been collective madness - wandering into a maze-like trench filled with dead Germans without contact from your superiors for weeks is bound to do this kind of thing to you.
- Or to give the writer a little more credit: They all died in the initial attack, the trench is a form of Purgatory, and the German is an angel/demon who's purpose is to test the morality of their characters. Those that fail die and stay in the trench, those that succeed get to leave it. Notice that this makes a lot more sense, given what's mentioned in the Foreshadowing entry.
- Psycho Party Member: Overtly Quinn, and later Bradford.
- Psychotic Smirk: Quinn most of the time. By the end of the movie, Bradford has an even creepier smile on his face when threatening Charlie.
- The Reveal: The German soldier at the end.
- Sanity Slippage: All the characters after they enter the creepy abandoned trench and decide to hold it until backup arrives.
- Secret Test of Character: Charlie's persistent and mounting refusal to kill anyone seems to be what separates him from his squadmates until he does, is apparently sucked into the underworld, escapes, is then held at gunpoint by the prisoner, and is released... Because You Were Nice to Me.
- Sinister Minister: Bradford slowly morphs into this because of his gradual Sanity Slippage. He was quite The Fundamentalist before as well, just not insane yet.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Unabashedly cynical in it's portrayal of The Squad, whose members are mostly bastards at best and violent psychos at worst. Needless to say, the image of the tragic yet cheerful "Tommies" seen in British World War One propaganda gets completely shattered...
- Sociopathic Soldier: Quinn.
"Thank god he's on our side, eh?"
- How about this exchange ?
Quinn: "I went to Blackpool once..."
Starinski: "Oh, was it nice ?"
Quinn: "I killed a man there... Yeah, it was nice."
- The Squad:
- Trench Of Insanity
- War Is Hell: Oh yes. By miles.
- And if you accept the purgatory interpretation, Hell Is War.
- World of Ham: All of the soldiers, with the possible exception of the German.
- World War One: The setting is the western front, presumably in the later stages of the war (cca 1917). And it's as muddy and grim as ever...