I love many, many things about the horror genre, but one of the most satisfying is the ability of the genre to throw up fresher slants and new takes on well-worn routes, giving things a welcome shot in the arm.

And here we have Boots On The Ground, unleashing a whole-new way of orchestrating the oft-used (and pretty tired in my humble opinion) found footage format.

Throwing the audience headlong into the antics, fears and frights of a bunch of British squaddies on tour in Afghanistan, director Louis Melville’s offering is tense, claustrophobic, surprising and as much of a head-scratcher as it is shock tactics.

The set-up is pretty simple – a half-dozen troops find themselves off the beaten track on one of their combat missions – so far off track in fact that they stumble across an imposing concrete structure that has clearly seen better days.

Seeing what appears to be another group of British soldiers entering the building ahead of them, the troops decide to investigate, only to be met by dusty rooms, crumbling corridors, pitch-black staircases and a maze of tunnels and pitfalls.

Things then take a turn for the weird (and worse) when a couple happen upon a chest of gold bars and before you know it paranoia, conspiracy and even hallucinations are the order of the day.

Where exactly have these soldiers found themselves? Is there a way out – and are they alone……

Melville’s take on this is a real treat, blending timelines and realities to dizzying effect – in fact, this is as far removed from a generic found footage flick as you could imagine.

The technique is also immensely innovative, as the whole thing is filmed using the soldier’s helmet-cams, switching from view to view as Melville deems fit.

Not only does this really throw you into the heart of the action, even putting a ‘survival horror’ slant on things at times as you have POV shots of automatic-weapon-clutching grunts creeping around with only a flashlight for company, but it also gives a legitimate answer to the oft-screamed ‘why the hell would you be recording this?’ mantra that often afflicts films of this ilk.

This is very much an ensemble piece on the acting front and it would be wrong to single anyone out – all get their moment in the spotlight and do more than a good job.

The direction is spot on, building the tension nicely until a satisfying pay-off. If I have one criticism (we have to have one don’t we) it is that the film’s ‘reveal’ (or one of them anyway) is pretty obvious and I imagine most viewers will have guessed it well before the film gets round to pointing it out.

But that is a minor quibble and I am more than happy to give Boots On The Ground a hearty thumbs-up – a real surprise that comes thoroughly recommended.

Horror Channel Frightfest Review: Boots On The Ground
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.