The Bunker was one of those movies I absolutely had not heard of at all before and was a blind buy, finding it of all places, at a supermarket. It was cheap at only $3.99 and the plot description sounded intriguing, mixing World War II with Horror. The first few times I watched it I was rather bored and unimpressed, but watching it again recently I like it quite a bit more. It's worth seeing at least once for fans of psychological Horror films, and it is actually a relatively suspenseful film.
The story is set in June 1944. During World War II, with the war waging on all fronts, some German soldiers stationed in a military bunker near the German-Belgian border experience malevolent spirit energy that makes them experience the atrocities they have committed and the disturbing imagery of the past drives them mad, as the Allied forces close in on them. Are they really seeing Ghosts or is it all in their heads?
The Bunker sounded like a very promising film, and looked even more so, with it's cool cover art featuring skeletons clad in WWII German military uniforms and looking battle-ready. The cover art couldn't be more misleading. If you're expecting something like Aliens in a World War II setting, then don't, because The Bunker is as dissimilar to Aliens as can be. There is a pretty good gun battle early on but that's as close as it gets. Do not watch this movie expecting an all-out war movie, otherwise you'll be very disappointed. It is actually a psychological Horror film and an interesting one, despite some flaws which drag it down, but for those who have patience and enjoy psychological Horror, it's worth it.
Rob Green is the director and he does a decent job, creating a lot of atmosphere and tension. Green doesn't rely on gore and shock tactics to frighten the viewer, instead relying on good old-fashioned paranoia and suspense and for the most part Green is actually successful, with the film having a dark and ominous tone and feel that is very somber and bleak. He sure can create atmosphere, from the dirty and filthy underground tunnels, rainy outside environment, and the overall dustiness of the bunker itself. It all immersed me and at times I really felt like I was there. Good job! Green is particularly good with the photography, creating some very eerie and unsettling imagery, and giving the feel a strong documentary-esque look and feel that added to the rawness of it all.
While Green does a commendable job of creating atmosphere and suspense (for once a director who actually focuses on the psychological aspects of Horror and injects some genuine tension into the film), his handling of the pacing is in need of work. The pace lags quite a lot throughout the film and as I was getting interested in it the pace would slow things down and my interest began to wane in and out throughout the film.
Another flaw of the film is that the characters are quite underdeveloped and I couldn't really identify with any of them, I had a hard time of keeping track and few of them stood out. The actors though are competent enough in their roles. Andrew Tiernan is perhaps the best actor in the film, giving quite a fun performance as the increasingly psychotic and aggressive Schenke who seems to enjoy fighting in combat and instigating conflict. Good show by Tiernan. John Carlisle isn't bad as the elder Nazi who tells quite a spooky little ghost story, and Andrew Lee Potts is quite good in his role as the teenage Nazi Neumann, having to experience warfare at such a young age and trying to prove his bravery to his older comrades. Jason Flemying and Christopher Fairbank are solid in their roles too as Baumann and Heydrich, and Charley Boorman also stands out as Franke.
One aspect of the film that many will question, and perhaps even be disturbed by, is that it features Nazis as the lead characters. It sure is a gutsy move by the filmmakers to feature some of the most hateful and evil people in history as the lead characters, but in all honestly it makes for quite an interesting approach, and it adds to the movie's dark and grim feel, having to identify with the Nazis in this film. It is hinted that some of the Nazis here may have been drafted against their own will and are fighting for a cause they don't actually support nor believe in, and truth be told I actually felt some sympathy for a few of them because of that. They truly didn't believe in the propaganda they had been fed and didn't willingly fight for it, and began to see warfare and Nazism for how terrible it all is. No sympathy is given to Nazism however and the madness most of them experience in the tunnels shows that their terrible crimes of the past have caught up with them and they are getting retribution.
The music is quite good, atmospheric and somber and pretty eerie at times too, and it worked well all-around. One of the film's most criticized aspects is that it features British actors playing Germans and speaking English in their native accents (the film is British for your information). Granted this is a bit of a problem, however since the film is only a fictional story and not by any means based on an actual occurrance (or maybe something similar happened during World War II, who knows...), this is forgivable if admittedly a bit bothersome and questionable.
The Bunker does not feature too many special effects but the effects are mostly quite good considering the low budget. The sets all look good and realistic and the effects used to simulate the spirit activity is simple yet convincing, and there's some nice pyrotechnic work as well. The film doesn't feature much gore but it doesn't really need it, the terror works very well. Overall The Bunker is a film I am half and half on. It has great atmosphere, is very creepy and tense throughout and an intriguing sense of mystery, but it's plodding pace and underdeveloped characters sort of drag it down.
Shortening the film by at least 10 minutes and developing the characters a little more would've easily scored a higher rating from me. The Bunker is a decent little movie that's worth checking out but definitely rent it first.
Directed by: Rob Green
Starring: Andrew Tiernan, Andrew Lee Potts, Jason Flemying, Christopher Fairbank, Charley Boorman
Released by: Mti Home Video
- Audio Commentary with Director Rob Green, Director Of Photography John Pardue and Production Designer Richard Campling
- Making-Of Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailers