Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Bunker: More WWI Horror

Private Segura is probably a lot like my great-grandfather, who served in WWI as a member of the New Mexico National Guard, even though it had only been a state since 1912. However, Segura encounters something supernaturally evil in a German bunker that Great-grandfather never had to worry about—presumably, since you are reading this review. The Germans suddenly don’t look so bad in Adrian Langley’s Bunker, which opens Friday in theaters.

Lucky Segura is a medic, who is part of the paltry reinforcements Captain Hall delivers to Lt. Turner. His primarily British contingent has been locked in a stalemate that appears set in concrete. Yet, rather inexplicably, it appears the Germans have completely abandoned their positions, so Turner mobilizes his battered remnants to capture that ground. What they find in the bunker is a German, strung up crucifixion-style.

Turner has Segura tend to the POW, in hopes of eliciting answers. However, they are interrupted when the Germans start shelling their own abandoned bunker, cutting off the rag-tag Allies from the above-ground. Then people start acting a little twitchy—and then more than a little crazy.

For obvious reasons,
Bunker is very similar in tone to Trench 11, but the horror element is supernatural rather than monstrous. In some ways, it almost feels like a dark parable, but there is an evil entity that eventually reveals himself—and the creature design work bringing it to life is pretty cool.

Eddie Ramos is also rock-solid anchoring the film as Segura. His tough street smarts contrast well with the Brits, especially Patrick Moltane as the martinet Turner. Think of him as Benedict Cumberbatch’s
1917 officer magically inserted into a horror film. Indeed, Moltane goes nuts pretty spectacularly. Luke Baines is also enormously creepy as the mysterious POW.

Weirdly, World War I is becoming a comfortable horror setting, most likely because viewers are unfamiliar with the underlying causes and not nearly so dead-set against Germany and their Central Powers allies. Therefore, the notion of working with them, against an ancient evil something would not necessarily strike the professionally outraged as “problematic.” They conveniently forget the Armenian Genocide and the German war crime tribunals in Leipzig. Screenwriter Michael Huntsman definitely glosses over all that, offering up “everyone loses in war” platitudes instead.

Bunker has a strong and unnerving sense of place that contributes to the claustrophobic tension. It would have been a little more effective if it were a bit tighter and shorter, but Bunker still works pretty well. Recommended for fans of subterranean horror, Bunker opens Friday (2/24) in Los Angeles, at the Laemmle NoHo 7.