The Bunker Game follows a group of employees that help run a Nazi-centric LARP (Live Action Role Playing) game inside of an abandoned Nazi bunker. After a malfunction, the LARP session is called short and the patrons leave. The remaining employees that stick around to clean up and resolve the problem soon become wary that their may be a sinister force, or perhaps the game's eccentric owner, afoot within the walls of the bunker.
[This movie was viewed on Shudder at the time of this review.]
The Bunker Game Review
They can't all be winners, and in this case, there is definitely no winner. The Bunker Game was, in my opinion, doomed to fail after the first 15 or so minutes. Which is a particular shame because the movie seemed destined for greatness in its opening moments with a fantastic concept, environment, and setup. Unfortunately, we are inevitably left with a predictable and painfully dull "is it a haunting or a madman?" formula that never gains any steam.
But let's start with what worked...which was essentially the opening moments. The film has a brilliant design. Taking place in an abandoned Nazi bunker in which a large group of LARPers participate in a pseudo-historical/fictional reenactment of Nazi scientists living in an experiment-riddled colony inside a grim, claustrophobic bunker. And our establishing scenes play in such an engaging way. We have love triangles and hate triangles being tossed about, but amidst the LARP experience, adding layers of "imaginary distaste" over "real distrust". It's such a unique take and style and I was really into it. Then...the electricity goes haywire.
**ONE SPOILER BELOW [ADDITIONAL WARNING IN PARAGRAPH]**
Now, that sounds like an opportunity to spice things up, but instead the film drops into a dull, methodical pathway of unoriginality. Rather than the place be locked down or the guests refusing to give up on the experience because of one hiccup, the LARP session is disappointingly called off and all the patrons are unceremoniously removed in a manner that is frustratingly simple, safe, and uneventful. This eventually leaves us with just a skeleton crew of the initial cast to scamper through the halls solving the mystery of **SPOILERS** "is there a ghost and what happened to it?" **SPOILERS END**. The whole thing ends up being depressingly predictable, not the least bit thrilling or engaging, and annoyingly subpar in its storytelling.
In hindsight, I felt that the movie would've made a great TV show or mini series tackling the concept built in the first few scenes. The complexity of building two dramas on top of one another as transcendent violence between the two realities ensues sounds like such a fun romp to be entangled into, reminiscent perhaps of Shudder's Slasher variant, with maybe a slightly more serious grit. Even adding in a tinge of the supernatural element would add to the intrigue if properly handled. But instead it turned into something bland and bromidic when it stripped the film of its complexity only to trot down a very worn path.
The film couldn't even be saved by its fantastic setting. The grim and claustrophobic structures quickly melt away with the mundane and trite plot that clearly doesn't have the means, either by budget or skill, to build dread through the nuance of the physical world, or execute on it...as made evident by the persistently off-camera violence.
This brutal review makes it sound like it was absolute garbage. It wasn't. The acting was decent, there was the occasionally effective cinematography, and, again, the setting and initial concept were gold. But I simply felt like I was going through the motions a mere 15 minutes in was never impressed or engaged the rest of the way. This, of course, is just a subjective take. There are plenty out there, according to user reviews, that loved it. So don't be afraid to make your own assessment. It wasn't SO bad that it is unworthy of an attempt.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 4/10
Film Quality: 2/10