Verging somewhere between The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a Rotten Tomato top-lister, Greek-German director Nikias Chryssos gives us something that is warped and trashy in one hit. A mismatch of themes and genres make up this rather eccentric film: from an alien life source to themes of child abuse, this film will leave you feeling bewildered and more than ever-so-slightly disturbed. If that’s the intention, then Chryssos has a job well done.
Far from conventional, The Bunker tells the story of a young man (Pit Bukowski) who arrives at a bunker where he’s rented a room advertised as having a “lake view”, which couldn’t be further from the truth. There are no windows, the decoration is scrubby and the furniture utterly minimalistic. A rickety bed stands lonely in one corner, opposite a table, chair and industrial-looking desk lamp. Nonetheless, the man, who is referred to throughout the film as “student”, decides to stay.
The significance of this room is unclear in spite of the film’s title, except that it’s not at all what it seems in this rather odd household. This becomes abundantly clear when the student is forced to take over the home-schooling of a couple’s (Oona von Maydell and David Scheller) son Klaus at the insistence of Heinrich, an opinionated alien who inhabits the mother’s leg (you couldn’t make it up).
Despite the eccentric storyline, it is an endearing film that somehow mesmerises, largely due to clever editing that heightens the drama and, in a complementary way, accentuates the oddity of the film. Its improbability neither makes it egotistical or gratuitous: the narrative is well-paced and Chryssos speaks volumes about the way in which adults today place unsurmountable pressure on children to learn, to be great and hugely successful, insinuating that averageness is just unacceptable. He explores our desire to live vicariously through children, while at the same time keeping them childlike and dependent in order to satisfy our insecurities.
Melanie Raab’s production design and Henrike Naumann’s costumes echo the austerity and downbeat realism of most art-house films, while Leonard Petersen’s ambient score sits perfectly in its quirkiness. The acting is good, the storyline odd but meaningful all the same, and the directing fairly impressive. If you enjoy watching something different and idiosyncratic, this German art-house film will not disappoint.
The Bunker does not yet have a UK release date.
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