Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
I’m one of those people who love love LOVES to seem smart. When someone mentions something about which I have even the tiniest shred of information, I am powerless to stop myself from butting in and blurting it out. Even if they probably would have gotten to my point eventually. Especially then. So it’s fittingly ironic that I am, in fact, horrifically ignorant about most things that matter. I know exactly as much about current events as someone who obtains all their information by reading newspapers over other peoples’ shoulders. If it’s not in the headline, odds are it escaped me. Geography? I’m not confident I could name all the states that border Pennsylvania and I spent the first two thirds of my life there. And history, holy fuck am I ignorant. I’m super competitive at Trivial Pursuit (Genus III is the definitive Genus. END OF DISCUSSION.) but I become strangely quiet during questions about events pre-1980. So maybe it’s not surprising that I made it through the entirety of Deathwatch (Netflix, Hulu), which is set in 1917, thinking it was a movie about World War II. Sickeningly offensive to the memories of the men who served in both wars, but not surprising.
For some reason the box art for this movie made me think the troops were about to do battle with
Nazi zombies. That is not the case. I won’t tell you what they’re up against because I’m not totally sure. As is all too often the case with U.K. supernatural horror, it’s never really fleshed out. There seems to be some corrupting force influencing the men’s psyches, but mostly it takes the form of ghostly barbed wire attacks. And it’s not like the terror is enhanced by a shroud of inconsistent vagaries. It feels more like establishing a coherent modus operandi would somehow be undignified. I know I’m being unfair because this is obviously a film that barely scraped together the budget to build out its period set pieces. Then again, it sports a fairly pricey cast of up-and-comers and sorta-knowns including the alway arresting Andy Serkis, Jamie Bell (in a decidedly uninspiring developmental phase), and a gruff character actor I like named Hugo Speer. I would have sworn the gay butler from Downton Abbey was in there too but I don’t argue with IMDB. Last time we got in a fight I ended up in traction.
Added bonus: Deathwatch was directed by Michael J. Bassett, who four years later in 2006 would direct Wilderness. Apparently all his movies need to have one-word titles of exactly ten letters. Am I the only one who thinks the name Michael J. should only ever be followed by Fox? Either switch to Mike or get your own middle initial. That one’s taken.