Horror story set among the trenches of the First World War
Opens December 6, Cert 15, 95 mins Jamie Bell, who pranced about so successfully in Billy Elliot, had yet to turn 16 when playing Private Charlie Shakespeare in this supernatural yarn set on the Western Front. Petrified, Charlie has to be forced over the top at gunpoint into the confusion and carnage of battle. As dawn emerges, he and survivors of his company find themselves fumbling about in no-man’s-land when they come across and occupy a rat-infested, abandoned German trench. However, as night falls, the British soldiers begin to die, one by one, at the hands of an unknown force.
Deathwatch effectively conveys the hellish, fetid mires of WWI, and boasts an able supporting cast, especially Andy Serkis as the violent Quinn. Two problems, however. Firstly, transposing supernatural horrors onto a World War I scenario seems pointlessly superfluous?as if life in the trenches wasn’t horrific enough as it was. Secondly, Bell is, in every sense here, a boy sent in to do a man’s job, and is found wanting. He’s too callow yet for this sort of role. Stick to your ballet, boy.