Directed by: Bill Thomas
Starring: Matthew Neal, Eve Pearson II,
Set during the Napoleonic War, Fallen Soldiers follows John Cross, a decorated soldier heading back to the British lines after discovering a terrible secret in a French encampment. He manages to take control of a carriage of an upper class Belgian woman called Celine and uses her to get him through the French checkpoints. During the perilous journey, Cross tells Celine about his mission, and why it is vital that he gets back...
Fallen Soldiers was completely off my radar until the review disc happened to drop through my letter box, so I was a little bit cynical of its claim to be Sharpe Meets The Walking Dead. However, I was quite surprised when I sat down to watch the film. The concept is marvellous and, when adding the dvd cover, I couldn't help but be reminded of a classic Iron Maiden track, The Trooper.
While the production values do fall shy of full blown costume dramas such as Sharpe, Hornblower and Poldark, the costumes and sets are sufficiently convincing and help provide a strong historical setting for the story. It surprises me that there aren't more horror films set in pre-modern times.
The film splits its time between John Cross's predicament inside the carriage, in the "present", and his actual mission which he recounts to Celine. The carriage scenes carry a certain amount of tension, especially when it gets stopped at a check-point, and later when an accident occurs inside and help is urgently sought.
The two leads are good, although Eve Pearson's French/Belgian accent does slide into 'Allo 'Allo territory a couple of times. Luckily the script is well thought through and the dialogue is lively throughout. I particularly liked Celine and John Cross's scenes together.
The makeup and zombie special effects work very well, too. The script manages to eek out its own unique backstory as to how zombies are raging through the ranks of Napoleon's army and that is reflected in the way the soldiers transform. There is more than a touch of The Evil Dead in some scenes when a sudden transformation takes place.
This is the sort of horror movie where, if you removed the horror elements, you'e still left with a decent costume drama. For me, the concept is golden and I'd love to see the ideas explored in further instalments.
8 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)