The Bunker


Rating 3

Directed by Rob Green

Written by Clive Dawson

Starring Jason Flemyng (Baumann), Andrew Tiernan (Schenke), Christopher Fairbank (Heydrich), Simon Kunz (Krupp), Andrew Lee Potts (Neumann), John Carlisle (Mirus), Eddie Marsan (Kreuzmann), Jack Davenport (Ebert), Charley Boorman (Franke) and Nicholas Hamnett (Engels)

During the final stages of World War II seven war-hardened German soldiers are pushed back by advancing American troops and take refuge in an anti-tank bunker in the Black Forest that is manned by a veteran of World War I and a teenage recruit. Convinced that they are surrounded by unseen American forces, they are told of a series of tunnels underneath the bunker, built as an armoury, but never finished and rumoured to be haunted. The old soldier tells a story of a legend of hundreds of plague victims buried on the site hundreds of years earlier.

At first, the soldiers are told to remain in the bunker and defend it, but one by one they venture into the tunnels, convinced that the Americans have infiltrated them, only to turn on one another as the claustrophobia distorts their grip on reality.


‘The Bunker’ is a 2001 British horror film that uses atmosphere and suggestion to create a sense of foreboding and paranoia, allowing the audience to decide if there is real evil present in the subterranean tunnels or if it is simply in the minds of the soldiers, the result of guilt for actions that are hinted at via a series of fragmented flashbacks.

The film is not entirely successful in what it sets out to do and is prone to becoming a little messy and unfocused at times. The tunnels are, we are informed, a labyrinth stretching over a wide area, but they seem to be anything but that, which does rather take away from the sense that as the soldiers move further into them so the unsettling sense that something evil lurks in the shadows becomes stronger. The impression, unfortunately, is that they never actually venture more than a few yards in any direction. Having said this, it is genuinely quite effective, not least because it uses the imagination of its audience to create the sense of unease and makes good use of a decent cast of actors. It has been compared to the 1983 Michael Mann film ‘The Keep’, which I have not seen. I thought it bore some resemblance to another British horror film, ‘Deathwatch’, released in 2002 and this time set in the trenches during World War I.

There are five reviews collected at Rotten Tomatoes, four of them identified as being positive. The film critic Kim Newman, writing for Empire magazine, called it, “An unusually persuasive, creepy movie,” although he went on to say it was, “Perhaps a little too ambiguous for the video gore crowd,” which sums it up quite nicely.

Review posted 17 May 2009


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