Unit Eleven (2020)
Ambition is important in film. It's true from big budget blockbusters to shoestring independent films. One of the best things about Evil Dead is that Sam Raimi & co. were ambitious. So ambitious that they created pieces of kit like a DIY dolly system in order to get the ambitious shots they wanted. Obviously not every independent film is going to be able to live up to something like Evil Dead (one of the greatest horror films ever made), but if you get the feeling that a filmmaker is really trying for something ambitious then it can make a big difference.
Unit Eleven is an ambitious film. Warring gangs in a post-apocalypse Britain is not something you make a film about if you’re not ambitious.
I think my favourite aspect of Unit Eleven is the look of it—the design of the various gangs populating this post-apocalyptic Britain feels like Walter Hill’s classic The Warriors has collided with Mad Max via Sheffield (where the film was shot). It’s an intriguing concept and this film is crammed full of similarly inventive ideas. Filmmaker, Theo Cane Garvey, is not short of ambition with Unit Eleven. Sometimes it feels like there are too many ideas ricocheting around Unit Eleven and the film could have done with pairing things back a little—the poachers hiding out in woodlands feels to me like something which deserves its own space to be developed (maybe in a short film)—but then this film is clearly a project Garvey is passionate about. The press notes for Unit Eleven explain that it took over ten years to get this to the screen. This film is a testament to Garvey's dedication, commitment and ambition and if you’ve ever wondered what Mad Max would have been like if it had been set in the UK then you could do worse than give Unit Eleven a watch.
We're not able to rate Unit Eleven because a big part of our (unnecessarily confusing) rating system is that the film needs to be judged on a fear factor and Unit Eleven isn’t really a horror film. It’s an action film and that's a genre with a whole host of different criteria you would use to give a rating. What I will say is that the action sequences are well choreographed, shot and edited—which is a major stumbling block for a lot of home-grown action.
I couldn’t say that Unit Eleven is something I’m going to return to, but I would be interested in seeing whatever Theo Cane Garvey comes up with next because you can guarantee that it will be something unique, bold and ambitious. I would be especially interested in Theo Cane Garvey's take on the horror genre…
Unit Eleven is available now on Amazon Prime Video.