Tank 432 (also known as Belly of the Bulldog) is a British psychological horror that is as great as it is infuriating. A serious case of a film getting so much right & so much wrong at the same time.
Written & directed by Nick Gillespie, the movie opens as vaguely as it ends. A group of mercenaries are fleeing across an unknown landscape with hooded hostages. Where are they? Who knows. Who are they running from? A mystery. The most we get is garbled speak about hostiles.
One of their number is injured & after finding scenes of devastation at a nearby farm they come under attack from unseen forces. The injured man is abandoned against his will while the rest escape with the hostages. While trekking across a field they come across an abandoned tank & decide to use it for shelter.
Once inside they manage to hold the hatch from their mystery attackers but in doing so accidentally jam it shut. The group are now trapped inside & it doesn’t take long before tempers begin to flare. Just who was attacking them? What was the orange powder they kept seeing? Why does Smith keep writing in his notebook? Who are the hostages?
A lot of questions. Not a lot of answers…or at least satisfying answers.
The idea of a group of hardened mercenaries trapped inside the confined space of an abandoned tank is an interesting idea. It delves into the mind-frame of those & how they handle intense pressure. However, at times it goes for silly shock moments instead of leaving us with a sense of dread.
Occasionally, when looking through the viewfinder, the soldiers see glimpses of things in gas masks & hazmat suits but these are just for jump scares. Completely unnecessary for a movie built on psychological horror. Also, the less said about the ‘shitting’ scene, the better. We get it, they’re going to have to crap while in the tank but do we need to see that crap!?
Where Tank 432 does excel is with its grimy nature & excellent cast. Starring Rupert Evans, Deirdre Mullins, Steve Garry, Michael Smiley, April Pearson, Gordon Kennedy, Tom Meeten and Alex March. There isn’t a bad performance here even if a few of the characters are forgettable.
The story isn’t dragged out either & it leads to a franticly exciting finish. Props to the music department here, they absolutely lift the finale making it a surprisingly emotive finish. Unfortunately, when it tries to explain just what may have been occurring, it doesn’t pay off. Why? That’s the question that remains as the credits roll? Why?
Ambiguity can be good in horror. A chance to make up your own mind about what may have occurred but to do that we need at least something to go on! Tank 432 doesn’t give enough leaving a strong feeling of frustration. It’s a real pity as there is plenty to enjoy here.
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