1 September 2017



I loved this atmospheric war drama, which has more than a touch of supernatural horror running through it as well. It's another film about soldiers in Afghanistan, of which there've been a few thus far, only this time the soldiers are French and not American. It's 2014, and the troops are getting ready to withdraw from the area.

Soldiers who were sent into Afghanistan after the tragic events of September the 11th 2001 to put manners on the Taliban are preparing to leave the country they've occupied for thirteen years. It wouldn't have been an easy country to patrol or live in, either, I'm guessing. I mean, have you seen how lonely and scary-looking the place is and how bleak and stony the terrain...?

I felt sorry for the poor lads- in this instance, they're French- we saw high up in the mountains at their lookout-spot. They're monitoring a remote valley in Wakhan, Afghanistan, on the border with Pakistan. I know they're supposed to be keeping a lookout for enemies and unusual activities and whatnot but God love them, it looked like such a soul-destroyingly boring job.

Fair play to them though for leaving their loved ones at home and going to a strange country to fight the powers of evil. It takes balls to do that, and they seem to have done it without much support from the taciturn locals and shepherds, who appear to need as much careful watching and even more careful handling than the pesky Taliban themselves.

The soldiers surely must have felt very isolated and far away from home up in those bleak, bleak mountains miles from anywhere. It would really make you grateful for what you've got and put your own life into perspective for you.

I mean, almost anywhere in the world is better than being stuck up those desolate mountains, surely? It's a comfortless, cheerless place and, if you wanna get religious about it for a moment, it's almost like a place that God forgot to finish or something. No offence to the folks who live there and have to scrape a living off the land but that's kind of what it looks like to an outsider.

Anyway, the handsome blonde Captain Antarès Bonassieu is the boss of this particular unit. Everything seems to be ticking along relatively nicely for them all when suddenly, for no reason at all, two of his men suddenly disappear off the face of the earth during a night patrol.

There's no sign of them anywhere, but the natives are behaving very strangely with their sheep all of a sudden (no, it's not what ye think, ye naughty little filth-mongers!), which leads Captain Handsome to suspect them of some level of complicity in the disappearances. Well, who else is it gonna be? There's no-one else for miles around. But still, he can't be absolutely certain of their guilt. There's no proof whatsoever, after all.

Have the men been kidnapped, murdered, or what? Are they being held as hostages somewhere for ransom? And why should it matter whether or not they were lying on the ground at they time they disappeared?

When another and then another of Captain Handsome's lads go missing, and the villagers claim they're missing some of their own people too, the hunt is well and truly on to find the 'disappeared' before they slip away out of human grasp forever...

The title NEITHER HEAVEN NOR EARTH sounds like the name of a Joan Crawford or Bette Davis melodrama from the 'Forties, so in one sense the title is ill-suited to the movie. On the other hand, it fits perfectly. Let me explain. Well, I'm not really going to explain, as such, because I'm not altogether sure that that's possible.

In the desolate mountains of Afghanistan, it must be easy enough to look up at the endless sky and imagine yourself to be close enough to Heaven to nearly reach out and touch it. Surely you'd have God's ear in such a silent spot. It's easy to imagine that the opposite is true as well, and that you're suspended there mid-way between Heaven and Hell in a sort of purgatory. 

Purgatory is where God stores his human bric-a-brac until he decides whether he wants to keep it or not. We have a cupboard-under-the-stairs that serves the same purpose, only we don't deal in humans, haha, only old broken radios and tennis rackets with no strings in them and a load of other shite that we should probably just sling out. Charity shops sure as f**k won't want it...!

My point about purgatory is as follows. If, having done your time there, God brings you upstairs with him and Elvis and Jimi Hendrix and all the rest, then yay, great stuff. But if you're going downstairs, heh-heh-heh, then there's a portal in the film to a place where you could serve out an eternity of loneliness and isolation quite easily. Or should I say, with the utmost difficulty. It's meant to be Hell, after all...

The guy who plays Khalil, the army's interpreter, is sexy-as-hell. I liked the huge black guy who played the chaplain too. I love the way he admonishes Captain Handsome, telling him in no uncertain terms that 'God is not a teddy bear that you can cuddle at night...!' Darn tootin.'

The bit where they're in the underground cavern is super-cool. But where does it go and why is it there in the first place? What's its significance? William, one of the men who goes missing, has his own creepy theory as to what's going on. Dreams play an important part in the whole business too, but just because you dream it doesn't necessarily mean it's real...



Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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