Opening with an Islamic terrorist being interrogated aboard a decommissioned World War II battleship Nazi Dawn appears to be a full-on action flick. However when the entire crew of the boat are mysteriously mutilated by an unknown evil, the real story and the real horror take over.
When the military receive radio silence from the SS Lane Victory they send a Special Forces team to find out what has happened. Once aboard the team led by Col. John Willets (Lance Henriksen) find body parts and blood and only a handful of survivors one of which is Willets son Colin (Gary Stretch).
Searching for answers amongst the mutilated bodies, the crack squad are beset by ghostly noises and visions of a figure walking the ship. Desperate to find answers, father and son must unite to discover the true evil that haunts the ancient vessel and the real reason they where sent to find it.
Well made and well directed by Roel Reine the film looks good with some good make up effects and a generous bath load of blood. Keeping the killings mainly off screen creates a good level of tension and suspense rising the movie over the action movie conventions it sometimes falls into.
These stereotypes are predominantly found in the clichéd cast of characters which make up Willets team along with the hard nut soldiers, clinical doctor, random hot woman, creepy nerdy suspicious looking scientists and world weary oil faced engineer who appears to have been on the boat since World War II ended.
Towering over then all, holding the film together and given all the best lines is the legendary Lance Henriksen as Col.Willets. From Aliens to Millennium and a million other movies, he is a cult icon and great actor – proving both here by giving gravitas and believability to a character and situation which is ultimately ridiculous.
Military horror movies are a small genre populated by only a few examples such as R-Point, Deathwatch, Dog Soldiers and The Bunker. Mixing up guns, ghosts, black ops, black magic, military might and malevolent murders works well, and for the first three quarters Nazi Dawn is a solid movie balancing action with tension perfectly.
Sadly however the film descends into stupidity, becoming more and more preposterous the closer the climax gets. The more that is revealed about the ghastly ghost ship, the less scary it is, culminating in a predictable and ineffective ending that leaves you wishing it had all just stayed unexplained.
Nazi Dawn is not all bad and Henriksen especially is always worth watching. However the fact that the movie has already gone through two other titles, Deadwater and Black Ops, both much better than the one they chose to release it with says a lot.