Title: The Bunker (2022) Director: Adrian Langley Writer: Michael Huntsman Studio: Buffalo FilmWorks // Blue Fox Entertainment IMDb Plot: Trapped in a bunker during World War I, a group of soldiers are faced with an ungodly presence that slowly turns them against each other. Joe Says: The Bunker is filled with comfortable war cliches and an exaggerated monster vehicle tightly tied in with some serious claustrophobic tension that screams to be larger yet gets tangled in the barbed-wire trap of its own complex.
The War to End All Wars, now over one hundred years in the past, is ripe for all manner of fiction. From the staunch anti-war realism of the recent All Quiet On The Western Front to the vampiric horror of Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s Baltimore series, World War I, with its trenches, and gas, and No Man’s Land, is recent enough not to come across as foreign but exists far enough in the past to allow plenty What Ifs to fill those gaps left within history.
The Bunker is one such fictitious tale. One filled with comfortable war cliches and an exaggerated monster vehicle tightly tied in with some serious claustrophobic tension. The Bunker is an indie horror-thriller that screams to be larger yet gets tangled in the barbed-wire trap of its own complex.
Directed by Adrian Langley and written by Michael Huntsman, the spotlight falls on a contingent of Brits and Yanks capturing a German bunker – only to be trapped by the evil within. That evil, more elder-god supernatural than creature-feature spotlight, slowly plagues the soldiers into killing each other. Emphasis on slowly. Langley and DP Matthew Quinn build a genuinely creepy location where they successfully mix quiet schizophrenia with bloody horror. Yet, the low-budget production values keep smacking you in the face like an artillery shell, preventing the narrative from successfully elevating out of the trenches.
The Bunker becomes a dichotomous performance. While the digital camera work makes the flat lighting of the set look like a Colin Baker episode of Doctor Who, the gore and f/x are Mario Bava worthy. Huntsman script is full of “This is war!” cliches, yet bellowed by the incredibly over-the-top style of Patrick Moltane, those lines are pushed to a Jack Torrance “Here’s Johnny!” level of crazy. And those bunkers walls might look like paper mâché, but the Griever creature makes for a uniquely terrifying Cenobite entry. The monster unfortunately provides its own French exit after arriving well too late into the final course.
Langley builds and pulls back too frequently making this constant teasing weary. The final once more into the breach becomes one of exasperation instead of excitement.
Fans of indie horror will certainly be forgiving and enjoy The Bunker for its originality. And there truly is much to enjoy, from the throwback opening titles to its unexpected shocks. The slow churn of the story is what weakens the fuse as the anticipated explosion fizzles into a bottle-rocket pop instead becoming a howitzer-sized blast.