Thursday, August 25, 2016

DER BUNKER (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

DER BUNKER (2015) 
Label: Artsploitation Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 85 Minutes
Audio: German Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Nikias Chryssos
Cast: Nikias Chryssos, Hans W. Geissendörfer, Hana Geissendörfer

Artsploitation have come through with another supreme slice of foreign weirdness, this time they've brought us the German import Der Bunker (2015), a surreal watch about a young boy named Klaus (Daniel Fripan), the son of oddball parents (David Scheller, Oona von Maydell) who live a reclusive life in an underground bunker located deep in the woods. The first bit of weirdness to get out of the way is that young Klaus appears much older than a boy of eight, in reality he is a grown man playing a boy, wearing ill-fitting schoolboy clothing and coming off as a bit developmentally challenged. The question of his age is a bit perplexing, whatever the explanation is it does add yet another odd element to the uneasy proceedings. 

A young man referred to only as the "student" arrives at the family bunker to rent a room which had been advertised as having a view of a lake. He seeks to rent a quiet room where he can fully immerse himself in solitude and his studies. What he finds is a cold, concrete bunker that is sparse and depressing. Despite the poor accommodations he decides to stay on as a tenant with the family, hoping to further his studies into subatomic quantum mechanics or some such science-y type stuff. His studies prove not to be too important to the story as he is quickly overcome by the strange happenings at the bunker-house and the oddball inhabitants who call it home. 

The father is a strict taskmaster prone to lashing his son with a rod when he disapproves of the boys lack of progress with his home studies, at night he dons white-faced mime make-up and tells awful jokes to the family, at dinner he counts how many dumplings and napkins the new tenant eats and makes notes in a journal. Mother is a weirdie, too. A quietly intense woman obsessed with keeping her seemingly challenged son at home, and again the boy seems to have aged well beyond eight years old, perhaps because his domineering parents have not allowed him to grow, perhaps stunted by their claustrophobic neediness. Strangely, Mom and Dad have set a lofty career goal for their son, encouraging him to rise to the challenge of becoming the President of the United States, which as a German might prove to be difficult

Weird seems to be the word of the day while watching Der Bunker, an arty movie that seems to touch on the dangers of suffocating parents, the horrors of home schooling, and wraps it up in a voyeuristic melange of surreal weirdness ... oh, and then there's the addition of a sentient wound on the mother's leg which makes decisions for the family. Yup, way beyond weird and darkly funny, which I was not expecting. The movie has a building sense of quirky dread which I thought would transform into some bloody carnage, but it only unfolds into more surreal lunacy. If a mash-up the 70's cult-classic The Baby (1973) by way of Delicatessen (1991) sounds like a good time, this ought to be a fun watch for you, for others it might just be a head-scratcher. Highly recommended for fans of surreal black comedies.