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Deathwatch (2002)
Movie Review by The Drug Stuffed Corpse

Deathwatch (2002) Directed by Michael J Bassett

Odyssey Entertainment

We are dropped onto the Western Front, 1917. The English scourge is encroaching upon a German occupied trench (history is written by the victors so who's to say?). Even with the barbarians at the gate, the Teutonic soldiers seem inexplicably oblivious of their approach. The trench is quickly commandeered, but at what price? Director Michael J. Bassett tries to create a bleak world of order where every thought is regulated by a chain of command and instinct is anathema; where insanity is matched and checked with more insanity. A Catch-22-like world caked in mud and ankle deep in blood. The trench they risked their lives for becomes an inescapable tomb closing in around the physically exhausted and mentally fatigued troop. As morale dissolves and the body count soars only a young private named Shakespeare seems to have an inkling of what has befallen his patrol. Deathwatch is an honest attempt at a cerebral horrors-of-war saga infused with a folkloric cautionary tale. However, the twist elucidating how good and evil do indeed exist and that they supersede lines drawn in the sand by mortal men falls just short of entertaining. The actors look genuinely forlorn, but the brightly lit set destroys any sense of isolation and danger. The lethargic pace plods slowly as an infantry crossing a lake of mud towards a crescendo that never comes to fruition. In hindsight Deathwatch isn't a bad film, but it is in dire need of more action to break up the tension; it never shies away from the gore and the panicky moments are not without their charm. However, the director's comments in the deleted scenes denote his obvious perturbation with the end product and his gestures of dissent are apparent in the quality of the movie.

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