Monday, March 14, 2022

The Bunker Game, on Shudder

It is weird what some people consider fun, like the LARPers (live action role-players) who are pretending to live in a National Socialist/Axis bunker, in the aftermath of a fictional nuclear war with the Allies. In their defense, most of them are playing as revolutionaries against the remnant regime. Therefore, it is probably just as well they will be spared the horrors. However, the staff running the game are in for some supernatural frights while they stay behind to clean up in Roberto Zazzara’s The Bunker Game, which premieres Thursday on Shudder.

Gregorio is a bit of a ham and a cad, but he is the only one who really knows how the game is supposed to end. Rather inconveniently, he disappears after a power failure, so his employees end the game early and usher out the paying players. Of course, they go back looking for Gregorio, whom they assume is being a game-playing jerk, because that is exactly what he is. Alarmingly, when they lose patience with him, they suddenly find themselves locked in the bunker.

Using old schematics, they will try to find another way out. However, Laura, the pregnant lover Gregorio was cheating on, starts to have ominous visions of the bunker’s WWII past. She is convinced there are ghosts down there with them, but nobody else wants to hear that—especially Andrej, who has been a little too method playing the Nazi commander.

Bunker Game
starts out like Fatherland and then segues into something like Grave Encounters, but not enough so. It takes a full hour before the nefarious forces toying with the LARP staff finally pick one of them off (not including Gregorio, who is assumed dead, but confirmation will be withheld until late in the game). Like Lifetime’s Line Sisters, Bunker Game’s cat-and-mouse business has too much mice bickering and not enough cats hunting.

Like many horror movies,
Bunker Game is not exactly a triumph of characterization either, but the wheelchair-bound Marcus is a nice bit of inclusive casting (he is played by Makita Samba, who hardly looks like he belongs in a Nazi bunker, but at least that suggests the LARPers were not hung up on authenticity, at least not at its ugliest). Gaia Weiss also has some energy as Laura, who by the rules of horror movies, should absolutely not be the final girl, but her pregnancy might be what protects her. Plus, Lorenzo Richelmy (a.k.a. Marco Polo) is suitably rakish as Gregorio.

The bunker setting is pretty creepy and the Axis-flavor of the game lends a sense to the film that the victims really had it coming, in an EC Comics comeuppance sort of way. Technically, it is pretty solid, but Zazzara fails to build tension from this setting and atmosphere, to the extent that he should have. Too slack to recommend,
The Bunker Game starts streaming Thursday (3/17) on Shudder.