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The Bunker: The Evil Is Within (2001)
Director: Rob Green
review by Steve Anderson
From the pretty good millennial summer for direct-to-video war movies with horrific elements, the trend continued with The Bunker, released by Redrum Entertainment and Millennium Pictures. Interestingly, The Bunker is another solidly styled war movie, with a handful of minor horrific elements. We kick off with one of Friedrich Nietzsche's best-known quotes, "If you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you." Frankly, Nietzsche is eerily appropriate to kick off a movie with this kind of plotline and with, actually, this kind of quality.
It's the height of World War II, June 1944, and those wacky Nazis have built themselves a big underground bunker (hence the title). Pithy commentary aside, something rather nasty and unpleasant (as though Nazis weren't nasty and unpleasant enough) is also living in that big underground bunker, and it's hungry for German. And we're not talking ribers and wheat beer, either.
Fast-forward for some reason to four months later, October 1944, and you'll know what kind of a fix Hitler and his boys are in. But what we're paying attention to is a squad of Panzer troops heading through a forest on the border between Germany and Belgium. Which is already a serious note of originality - I can't recall the last war movie that was focused on German troops. But anyway, the Germans in that bunker have a real problem on their hands. They're down to a handful of troops, no support in sight, and they're stuck in the bunker with whatever that thing was. And what, pray tell, do our un-reinforced, low on ammo German troops do while waiting to be relieved? They tell each other ghastly stories about people being eaten alive.
Our Nazi buddies spend the rest of the movie searching the underground bunker for ammunition, hallucinating, and getting attacked. The ending is surprisingly stirring and even packs a surprise or two into the end, a welcome treat. And the moral of our movie is, there's no situation so bad that having a Nazi around can't make it worse!
Perhaps it's nitpicking, but one of the strange things I noticed right off was that almost all our Nazi troops, with good Teutonic names like Kroitzmann and Schenk, have English accents. Weird, huh? Like it was filmed on location in, oh, I don't know... New Zealand? And I want to know where these guys got the rifle that looks very much like a Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle. What, is this some kind of experimental MG-43 from the fabled 'last days of the war,' when the arsenal of occultist tyranny resembled an Isaac Asimov story brought darkly to flesh and blood life?
The Bunker, actually, downplays its more horrific elements until the very end. In fact, it's largely indistinguishable from an actual war movie except for the last 20 minutes or so. The Bunker instead relies on skilful use of shadow, and things that move just out of visual sight. Plus, the actors portray a group of soldiers on the losing side so keyed-up and on the edge of pure panic that you can't help but be caught up with them. The Bunker is one of those rare movies that actually makes you feel as though you're there, in that bunker, fending off the horrific whatsit stalking them with the same bloodthirsty fervour as the Allied forces closing in on them. Minor nitpicking and historical inaccuracies aside, The Bunker is a solid little entry that'll make you glad you watched.
Region 1 DVD extra features are a real surprise, including deleted scenes, Spanish subtitles, a making-of featurette, a photo gallery, director's commentary, and trailers for The Bunker, Hunting Humans, Learning Curve, Maniacts, and Lucky.
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