Reviews

Hitler and The Third Reich's noted interest in the occult has provided inspiration for a myriad of filmmakers over the years, and so the trend continues with Mark Nuttall's debut feature Soldiers of the Damned. Charged with accompanying old-flame-with-secrets Professor Anna Kappel (Miriam Cooke) to co-ordinates behind enemy lines, decorated soldier Major Fleischer (Gil Darnell) is understandably concerned. As his “elite” band of brothers is to be joined by two particularly unpleasant SS officers, and as the mission leads them deep within an apparently haunted forest, Fleischer will face enemies from within his team as well as whatever dangers lurk among the trees.

 

To his credit Nuttall doesn't focus on zombies, although there is a little playing around with life after death. The Dead Snow films and numerous other less impressive releases have focussed entirely on reanimating soldiers, but Nuttall has taken a different approach, entering the realm of the supernatural rather than that of the undead. Ancient spirits and the existence of a pure Aryan race are foremost in the minds of the SS here, which does make a change from the usual zombies-in-uniforms genre staple. There is also the added tensions created by the blinkered, and satisfyingly unlikeable, SS officers mixing with regular German soldiers. While this sub-plot is not entirely successful, it being a little too obvious at times in its conflict, it gives the film more depth, offering a different dynamic to the usual good versus evil stand-off.

 

There is also a style to Soldiers of the Damned that gives the film an almost arthouse aesthetic. The woodlands in which the soldiers find themselves are bleached in appearance, giving them an uncomfortably sinister quality generating a haunted atmosphere that seems to linger in the background of every shot. Nuttall also doesn't hold back on the gore when necessary, with effects that are both brutally realistic and flinch-inducingly raw. Blood flows freely but it never threatens to overshadow the film or turn it into a routine splatter movie.

 

Soldiers of the Damned is generic in its plotting, but with some interesting spins on the familiar, and as a debut film it contains real potential. Nuttall has tackled the subject matter with an enthusiasm that is clearly evident, and if he can refine his obvious talent then it will be extremely interesting to see what the director produces next.

 

Written by John Townsend

The Second World War was one of the most horrifying and unimaginable events that happened in history; so much so, you could almost say it was what real-life horror films are made of. So, why are there not enough horror films that use soldiers and army atrocities to create a unique yet realistic dread in us? Director Mark Nuttall and writer Nigel Horne clearly picked up on this unexploited horror and along with higher beings, the paranormal and a little bit of time warping created the unique Soldiers of the Damned.

 

It’s 1944 and a group of German soldiers are sent on an obscure, dangerous and completely undisclosed assignment. Commander of the troops, Major Kurt Fleischer, and his men are to escort Professor Anna Kappel into the ominous forests of Russia to retrieve a precious and ancient relic. When the troops begin to vanish into thin air it becomes apparent that their mission is something far more sinister and the woods are home to worse than the brutal enemy.

 

There’s something very compelling about war stories and that becomes even more so when you add a slow burning atmosphere that explodes with a creative idea and lots of blood. Soldiers of the Damned progresses slowly at first but takes the time to build the characters and their relationships up, which is important when there’s the mystery of what the mission really is, who is on what side, who knows what and most vitally what is causing men to disappear and return mutilated.

 

Gil Darnell (Major Kurt Fleischer) plays the commander exceptionally well, bringing to life his worn down personality from the war and his distrust towards most. Not only this but Darnell looks like George Clooney and sounds exactly like Ross Kemp – awesome! Alongside is Miriam Cooke (Professor Anna Kapell) who brought to life the perfect balance between being sweet to deceive the troops and then turning into an absolute insane bitch.

 

Soldiers of the Damned was bound to have a high number of deaths due to it being the war and all, but there was just the right combination of harsh but typical shooting kills with an unrestrained amount of gruesome and inventive ones by whatever lurks. The effects were done incredibly well, although my only qualm would be that I thought the tank scene could have been a little subtler. Regardless of that, I loved watching the Germans painfully combust and have bullets unconventionally put in their brains.

 

Nothing will be revealed about the twist of this film because I genuinely want you to see it for yourself. The plot turned unexpectedly catching me off guard with what really dwelled in the forest – it’s fresh and something I’ve never seen used before. This British indie film is perfect if you’re looking for something a little different and love both the horror and war genres. Soldiers of the Damned is truly a clever, distinctive, bloody and enthralling film, which I highly recommend. 

 

Reviewed by Zoë Rose Smith

Hitler’s interest in the occult is a subject that has lent itself well to the horror genre, spawning zombie movies that have made a tired sub-genre seem fresh (Dead Snow) and given small independent features like The Devil’s Rock an intriguing story to showcase some major talent. Soldiers of the Damned is a new movie from the UK that tackles this dark period.

Set on the Eastern front in 1944, the movie follows Major Kurt Fleischer, (Gil Darnell), commander of an elite troop of German soldiers, after he is ordered to escort a female scientist (Miriam Cooke) into a mysterious forest behind enemy lines to retrieve an ancient relic. As his men begin to disappear under strange circumstances, Fleischer realises there is something in the forest that is far more deadly than the Russians.

 

The movie starts with a bloody bang that promises gore and carnage galore, it is a no holds barred war movie and the effects are stunningly real, producing toe curling brutality. The violence doesn’t maintain this intensity throughout the film, it tapers off from the middle which is a result of how powerful the opening scenes are, and the shift in mood and story into the second part of the film.

 

From here there is a much more supernatural element to the movie which is an interesting juxtaposition. Although grounding this film in reality with the brutal scenes of war, as the film unfolds into the occult it can’t match its opening scenes and the most unsettling parts remain the realistic war elements. The cast is successful due to a good ensemble that works well together on screen, a lot of camaraderie helps us care about the men who are losing their lives, but it is the stand out performance of Major Kurt Fleischer by Gil Darnell makes this film work. He is a man torn between his duty and his men and his tortured performance accurately communicates a cold, hard reality.

 

As the soldiers get lost in the woods their descent into madness is depicted well by their surroundings. The woods are spectacular and create an ominous feel that help the film shift mood, it is intriguing and rather claustrophobic and without them the second half of the film would not work so well, the cinematography captures this gloominess beautifully.

 

Although Soldiers of the Damned doesn’t bring anything new to the table, this is a solid movie that boasts a good cast and some stunning visual effects.

 

Reviewed by Charlotte Stear

Frompage2screen.com

Right from the opening credits of Soldiers of The Damned, we know what sort of film we are about to view. With opening credits very remenicent of Army of Darkness, I cant help but feel that if Sam Raimi made a film featuring Nazi's, then Soldiers of the Damned might well be the result. Taking the often told format of 'men on a mission' Soldiers of The Damned injects the 'genre' with a dash of the type of Germans often seen in the world of Indiana Jones.  A fun film, whilst gory in places but its a fun gore and not the emotion draining seriousness of films of recent years.  Schindlers List this isnt (nor does it try to be), Soldiers of the Damned it is.

 

Reviewed by Stuart Bannerman

Verdict: Mind Bending Thriller

 

Story: Soldiers of the Damned starts by placing us in Romania with the German soldiers retreating from the advancing Russian army. We are following an elite group of German soldiers lead by Major Kurt Fleischer (Darnell) who are cleaning the way back home. When Kurt gets his latest orders he has to go into a notoriously dangerous forest with a scientist Professor Anna Kappel (Cooke) along with pencil pushing soldier Major Hinirch Metzger (Hansen). Reluctantly Kurt takes the mission which will put his men’s live in danger because it involves going behind enemy lines, he wants to make it as quick as possible.

 

As the mission continues the strange events start to happen first with sickness, then with burning before one soldier Fuchs (Sawyer) witness a lady burn up in front of his very eyes. At this point the men know they are getting deeper into trouble but can’t turn back leading them to wonder if they will make it back alive.

 

Soldiers of the Damned starts off looking like it could just be a basic soldiers go into the woods and things don’t go well, but this ends up taking a very interesting turn. We literally don’t know what will happen next to our characters which pull us right into the mystery about what will happen. This could easily have been a bloody horror film but in the end it plays on your mind which makes it a huge plus. (8/10)

 

Actor Review

Gil Darnell: Major Kurt Fleischer leads an elite group of German soldiers, he has to take his men into what looks like a crazy mission and has to keep control once things start getting out of hand. Gil does a solid job in the leading role but I don’t believe he is strong enough to lead the soldiers. (6/10)

 

Miriam Cooke: Professor Anna Kappel is the scientist who is sent into the forest to help with the occult side of the German fight even though it is against her own will. Miriam does a solid job but seems to fall into background during the soldier haunting scenes. (6/10)

 

Lucas Hansen: Major Hinirch Metzger is the pencil pushing Major who is trying to use his power to scare people into doing what he wants but is easily just as frightened as the rest by the time he ends up in the forest. Lucas does a good job as the bad guy willing to turn on the soldiers. (7/10)

 

Support Cast: Soldiers of the Damned has a group of soldiers that all have the generic traits. Which all end up just being disposable.

 

Director Review: Mark Nuttall – Mark gives us a mind bending thriller that does keep us guessing until the final moments. (7/10)

 

Horror: Soldiers of the Damned has great psychological horror elements throughout. (8/10)

 

Thriller: Soldiers of the Damned keeps us guessing and pulls us into the story.(8/10)

 

Settings: Soldiers of the Damned puts our characters into the middle of the forest where they are alone with no back up. (7/10)

 

Special Effects: Soldiers of the Damned doesn’t have the best special effects but that can be overlooked for the story quality. (5/10)

 

Suggestion: Soldiers of the Damned is one for the horror fans to give a go because it will keep you guessing. (Give It A Go)

 

Overall: The mind bending ability of Triangle with the twisted side of Death Watch.

During 1944, a band of German soldiers are ordered to escort a professor of the occult division and two Nazi SS officers through a stretch of forest in Romania. Rumours have it that the forest is haunted after almost an entire paratrooper unit went missing after accidentally landing there. With the order to escort the Professor Kappel signed by Himmler himself, the soldiers have no choice but to obey the order as the professor looks to find an ancient relic.

 

SOLDIERS OF THE DAMNED is a spooky, supernatural tale that takes place as the Third Reich face confrontation from Russia’s Red Army. Losing their stranglehold over Eastern Europe, the German soldiers find themselves at war with the Russians over territory but its not just the Russians they’ll have to worry about in the dense forest of Romania.

 

There’s some pretty neat ideas in this film with time travelling, undead soldiers and ghosts plaguing the Romanian forest. You never know who will be taken next as the soldiers make their way to their destination. Stumbling upon unusual events throughout the movie, such as a man squashed by a tank, it really makes you question what the hell is going on and much like the soldiers, we’re pretty clueless forcing our imaginations to run wild with theories.

 

The attention to detail with the German uniforms and recreating that certain 1940’s look really gives an authentic feel to the SOLDIERS OF THE DAMNED which is rather important when you’re creating a war movie, albeit one with horror overtones. Of course there’s surreal moments but the filmmakers have gone to great lengths to make the film as realistic as possible even in the battle sections with plenty of vicious wounds and spurting blood to go with it. For those creepier, inhuman moments, CGI is used to great effect to turn the characters to ash, something which startles and puzzles the soldiers as they make their way through the forest. What sort of witchcraft is at work here?

 

SOLDIERS OF THE DAMNED stars a smashing cast with Gil Darnell leading the German soldiers as Major Kurt Fleischer. He seems kind-hearted and loyal to his men who serve him without question. Fleischer’s the sort of leader you could look up to and though he’s fighting for the German army, he wants nothing more than the war to end so they can finish the job and at this rate, it looks like the Germans will lose. Lucas Hansen stars as the slimeball SS officer Major Hinrich Metzger who constantly likes to pull authority on Fleischer and exert his dominance. After hanging many children during the war, Metzger appears to be haunted by visions running around the woodland. His actions make him the most unpopular person in the unit, with many of Fleischer’s men keen to see him meet a grisly end. Playing Professor Anna Kappel is Miriam Cooke. Kappel is part of the occult division of the SS and is ordered to retrieve a relic from the forest that could help their studies. She’s pleased to see her main escort is Fleischer, especially as the two have a history together. Despite this romantic reacquaintance, Fleischer would rather not be in the woods at all and is keen to get the job done as quick as possible so they can leave unscathed.

 

The creepy and unnerving tale of SOLDIERS OF THE DAMNED will have you on the edge of your seat, eager to discover the secrets of the forest whilst the solid supporting cast create a tight knit group you can really invest in. A supernatural tale well worth checking out.

 

Written by BAT

With all of the Nazi zombie horror movies coming out in recent times you would be forgiven to just look at this as just another in that realm. 'SOLDIERS OF THE DAMNED' though has done something different, yes it follows a group of Nazi soldiers and yes they are dealing with the occult but they are on a quest. Led by Major Kurt Fleischer they must escort Nazi scientist Professor Anna Kappel deep behind enemy lines into the Romanian forests to retrieve an ancient relic that Heinrich Himmler believes will give them great power and make the Nazi's an even more superior race.


Unfortunately as you can imagine things don't go quite to plan as each member of the group experience supernatural happenings in the forest and may end up dead. Having to contend with this unknown presence, Russian snipers and a snarky SS soldier leads us to a somewhat mediocre ending. It does have moments where it feels a bit long and you can't help but think the editor went to make a cup of tea. The only thing that I really found annoying was that being a British led film they could have at least put on (or tried to have) a German accent, as at times you do tend to forget they are Germans and not a British group of soldiers out for a stroll. The film has its saving graces though as it is well acted throughout and is a British horror that is directed like a high budget film with no Nazi zombies attached.

Review by Peter 'Witchfinder' Hopkins

The UK produced horror movie ‘Soldiers of the Damned’ takes us to the frontlines of the Eastern Front and to the edge of our seats in a gore-soaked tale which sees regular soldiers of the Wehrmacht forced into a doomed mission for the SS, whose objectives rivals the true absurdity and obsession of the Third Reich.

 

It’s the Eastern Front, 1944. The Russians are pushing the German Army back through Romania. Major Kurt Fleischer, war-weary commander of an elite troop of German soldiers, is ordered to escort a female scientist into a mysterious forest behind enemy lines to retrieve an ancient relic. As his men begin to disappear in strange circumstances Fleischer realises that the scientist is part of Himmler’s occult department and there is something in the forest that is far more deadly than the Russians.

 

The concept of Nazi based horror movies are nothing new, but let’s face it, the madness of Hitler’s Reich gives plenty of scope from which to glean inspiration from. Whilst the Nazi zombie genre has pretty much climaxed with the Norwegian ‘Dead Snow’ franchise, director Mark Nuttall, writer Nigel Horne and producer Stephen Rigg  do well to lean towards the more Occult themes and exploits of Himmlers’ SS fanatics, more akin to movies such as ‘The Devil’s Rock’ and ‘The Bunker’ rather than rehashing current genre trends. It’s a sensible decision and the result is a movie which is both mysterious and as creepy as hell.

 

The movie begins by straddling the line between a war movie and exploitation horror. We are introduced to our characters through conflict, and their actions tell us most of what we need to know about them. The commander is battle hardened and cynical, the sniper has the usual ticks that you might expect from someone choosing a role so intimate with death, and the other troops show authentic comradery you would expect from a group nearing the end of a long, hard war.  Now let it be known I am a bit of a WW2 nut, and so it was a delight for me to watch authentic looking costume, locations and weaponry in a horror movie! The initial battle sequences blew me away in both their visual quality and authenticity. I have seen war movies with less battle sequences in their entire run-time than what was shown in the first 15 minutes of this film! The cast do a fantastic job of making their plight seem as desperate as it must have been for the retreating Germans, and after the bombastic opener which shows several skirmishes and plenty of running and gunning I was very much behind them.

 

It is only, however, when they get back to field HQ that the true horror of ‘SOTD’ really gets going. Here Major Fleischer receives the orders and is told that his unit will accompany SS scientists and officers into the forest, with no option of failure. This is the second movie I have seen recently which makes the point of differentiating SS from Wehrmacht troops (the other being ‘Fury’). The actors who have the misfortune of playing the sadistic SS relish in their roles, and whilst they were perhaps a little embellished, there is no danger of any sympathising with their demise! The tone of the movie shifts here, and through skilful blending of storytelling and tension building, the introduction of supernatural threat generates a genuinely creepy atmosphere that builds slowly but effectively. The film benefits from truly eerie locations, and a stripped down military-esk score ensures the film maintains its war-themed context. Whilst SOTD could never be described as terrifying, there are a number of sequences which are guaranteed to un-nerve. The story plays with your mind a little bit, especially as it begins to introduce anachronistic elements to various events. The hints to the overarching storyline are delivered in bite sized chunks, with just enough information shared to keep the ‘buy-in’ into the stories strange set-pieces. SOTD is definitely more for those who appreciate a bit of mystery and slow-burn chills, and whilst I wouldn’t go as far as to describe it as a ‘thinking man’s’ film, the plot requires more commitment of thought that standard genre fayre.

 

That said, and as those of you who are familiar with BTG’s standard approach, atmosphere and mystery are one thing, but they still require a pay off in the gore department – here, once again, SOTD delivers. Whilst I won’t give too much away I will just say that the practical effects used in this movie look great! The gore is not gratuitous or OTT, but it remains brutal and in context none the less. There are plenty of well-placed kill sequences covering many of the favourites… exit sprays from bullet wounds, knife slashes, tanks getting dropped on people, oh, and a rather brutal ‘Russian’ execution which is particularly unpleasant! Along with the practical effects, there is also a fairly liberal use of CGI in the movie. I seldom get on-board with such effects as unless they are on a monster budget movie they always stand out from the reality. Here they don’t look too bad, and aside from a bit of enhanced blood spatter, the CGI is mainly reserved for the fantasy/supernatural side of things and some of the bigger war machines which is understandable.

 

Overall ‘Soldiers of the Damned’ is brutal and compelling. It has a great story line with plenty of bloody action and without a doubt a must watch for anyone into WW2 themed horror. Ambitious horror movies such as this always have some flaws, but in all honesty aside from a few scenes of hammy dialogue here and there SOTD has few. 

Soldiers of the Damned is the first time British film distributor

Safecracker Pictures have actually co-produced a movie, so this release has extra relevance for them. The company has done a worthy job.

 

The feature is solid story telling and a good example of how to build tension during the length of a movie. Mark Nuttal, the director, plays off the on-edge atmosphere that the two groups have despite facing something more life threatening.

 

There are some intriguing moments that see the characters ponder the great mysteries of life and death, when they aren’t attacking each other. It shows that while these people are in an environment that is all about death (a war), they still want to retain life. It also gives them an extra layer of characterisation and draws the viewer in more. For a horror flick Soldiers of the Damned tackles some big issues, the drama on display is handled well.

 

The nastiness of some of the characters is really driven home, with some aggressive and near-the-knuckle interactions. The insults come thick and fast, all with a basis in fact which makes it that little more unsettling. It seems that the real horror could well be the Nazi’s and the degrading way they treat other humans.

 

When the unseen evil in the woods does torment the soldiers, it is usually in a bloody and brutal fashion. This peppers the film with several moments of gore and special effects that jolts things back into a horror environment. Some of the maiming to be found is quite simplistic yet chilling: one man is held down and a bullet is held to his head in order for someone to slam a rock onto it. These violent incidents off set the drama nicely and will please those that want a more visceral movie.

 

A mention should go to the cast, it is loaded with very capable actors. Some handle the human interest aspect of the scripts well and make it believable. Gil Darnell (Fleischer) is outstanding, as is Lucas Hansen (as the despicable Metzger).

 

Verdict: A brooding British horror that is finely crafted, Soldiers of the Damned is a great tension-filled flick.

 

Reviewed by James Simpson

The Eastern Front, 1944. A German Army Major is ordered to escort a female scientist into a mysterious Romanian forest on fear of death for him and his men…

 

World War 2 horrors on film usually appear in a realistic, biographical format. Hardly surprising, with the real life horror of warfare not needing any further fantastic elements to beef up the nightmare count. However, when filmmakers do veer away from this remit, the results can be surprising and extremely entertaining – the Norwegian Dead Snow and the Swedish Iron Sky both being examples of how to bring a B-movie sensibility to the history books.

Soldiers of the Damned is a far more serious film than either of those two, but no less enjoyable for that. Taking in an occult mystery that contains plenty of believable insights into the Nazi love of mysticism and perverted spirituality, it provides a supernatural genre run through the woods.

 

Focusing on Major Kurt Fleischer’s (Gil Darnell) orders from SS top brass to escort Professor Anna Kappel (Miriam Cooke) to a mysterious forest beyond enemy lines, the plot steadily builds up the tension and drama. Fleisher doesn’t have any idea of what’s going on – just that he and his team will be in big trouble if the mission fails. Just what the mission is – to retrieve an ancient relic of special significance only becomes apparent after all sorts of apparitions and visions have entered the frame.

 

What, on first glance, looks to be a dumb horror dress-up show turns out to be far more effective than that. There is a genuine sense of mystery played out in the woodland, and the two leads Darnell and Cooke imbue their characters and the plot as a whole with a real urgency and drama. By the time the so-called zombie immortals  start hitting the screen the movie has succeeded in drawing in the audience in to its beguiling web.

 

The real success of the film is just that, the ability to play up the mysterious elements without needing any unnecessary explanation. There is a lot of rampaging and panic-stricken running around, but when the supernatural elements start getting weirder and weirder, its good to know there aren’t any easy answers.

 

Also, the all British cast mostly play their German characters with no attempt at dodgy accents –  I could only make out one or two – which is on balance is generally a good idea and makes it less easy to break the spell.

 

An enjoyable first feature then from director Nuttall, who displays a confident ability to set the mood and scene for an unsettling slice of period horror.

 

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★

 

Written by Robert W Monk

Romania 1944 and the German Wehrmacht is in full retreat from the Red Army. Battle weary commander Major Kurt Fleischer (Gil Darnell) is called into HQ to take a briefing for a top-secret mission. Under the direct orders of Heinrich Himmler he is to escort an archeologist from the SS Ahnenerbe behind enemy lines to search for an ancient occult artefact that Himmler believes will help the Nazis win the war. The matter is complicated by the fact that the Ahnenerbe scientist Professor Kappel (Miriam Cooke) is both female and an old girlfriend of Fleischer’s. Worse than that Fleischer’s crack squad is to be accompanied by SS Major Metzger (Lucas Hansen), Fleischer’s’ men hate the SS and Fleischer has a bit of previous with Hansen.
 
Crossing behind enemy lines things start to get creepy when the soldiers catch mysterious glimpses of things in the woods, the gory remnants of the previous mission turn up and Fleischer’s’ men start to combust. What is the secret Kappel and her SS buddies are looking for and is it worth the death of his men? Only Fleischer can decide.
 
Soldiers of the Damned is a dark gritty occult chiller with just a hint of Raiders of the Lost Ark about it, here the real monsters are not necessarily the supernatural ones. There is plenty of well staged gory action and despite the tiny budget the props and costumes have a really authentic look to them. James Martin’s cinematography is perfectly complimented by Tug’s dramatic soundtrack. The only let down is the odd bit of clunky dialogue, but it is good to see most of the Germans being portrayed as ordinary blokes with only the real Nazis as truly evil. I give Soldiers of the Damned a 555/666.
 
Written by Ship's Cook

Making the Nazi’s the good guys? Brave choice…

 

Soldiers Of The Damned tells the tale of a squad of Nazi soldiers (but, like, nice ones, who don’t like the evil SS or rapists) tasked with taking a scientist into a forest behind enemy lines, to recover an artefact. But soon his men start to die and all hell breaks loose.

 

Whilst I might question the premise of the film, once the horror kicks in, its is a very effective film, with the event of the forest equally perplexing as they scary, with excellent use being made of physical effects, CGI and even simple narrative tricks.

 

Whilst the ending deal leave the film feeling a bit flat at the climax, it was certainly an enjoyable ride to get there.

 

One for Friday night with some friends and beer, but worth that time.

There would appear to be a revival of sorts for horror flicks of a Nazi soldier bent. With both the Outpost and Dead Snow franchises doing reasonable business, especially in the retail market, it was inevitable that others would look to tap into the same lucrative vein looking to reap similar rewards. Earlier this year we were treated to the retail release of Backtrack: Nazi Vengeance. This British flick, again using Nazi's as its primal force, was a bit of a mess. With that still playing in the back of my mind I approached this feature début for former TV, commercial and music video director Mark Nuttall, with some trepidation.

 

Fortunately both Nuttall and screenwriter Nigel Horne have fashioned a tale that manages to feel both familiar yet fresh at the same time. Soldiers of the Damned is fresh in the way that it doesn't completely cover the same tracks as the aforementioned movies, although there are some similarities - the Nazi's interest in the occult for example. It also impressively manages to capture the period it is set in. Both the production design and hair and make-up teams are to be applauded for their work on the film within such a limited budget.

 

Unlike its comtemporary-based counterparts Soldiers of the Damned dares to be period set taking place in 1944 on the Eastern Front when the Russians are pushing the German Army back through Romania. Major Kurt Fleischer (Gil Darnell) is instructed to escort female scientist Professor Anna Kappel (Miriam Cooke) into a forest behind enemy lines so that an ancient relic can be retrieved. The soldiers in Fleischer's ensemble say that the forest is spooked or possessed but he doesn't initially believe them. Soon ghostly visions are seen and soldiers disappear as if burnt to ashes before their very eyes. Fleischer doesn't take long to suss that there is something far more sinister than expected lurking within the forest and has to figure out exactly what that something is before he and his team are completely wiped out.

 

For the best part of an hour our interest is maintained with something of interest happening throughout. However when it comes to wrapping up proceedings the energy on-screen flags under the weight of a script that has run out of more decent ideas. It also jars that the mainly British cast talk in English accents when they are meant to be German otherwise the performances are decent with Miriam Cooke particularly impressing in the key role of Professor Anna Kappel.

 

Mark Nuttall proves himself as a name to watch. His work in the director's chair is assured and bodes well for his future career in films. Despite the flaws mentioned Soldiers of the Damned is worth seeking out. For its limited budget the film sounds, looks and plays like a bigger    studio production. Soldiers of the Damned is a breathe of fresh air in a genre that is otherwise currently stagnating under the weight of wearisome found footage and cheap zombie flicks. It's surprising, involving and far better than you would perhaps expect.

 

Written by Sean Cockwell

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