The Bunker (2001)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Rob Green (Director)
Additional Footage-Schenke's Story
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||87:50 (Case: 90)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Rob Green|
Andrew Lee Potts
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
When a group of Nazi soldiers take refuge from allied forces in an anti-tank bunker, they soon realise the advancing enemy is the least of their problems.
Running low on ammunition and patience, the trigger-happy Germans are further destabilized when the caretaker of the bunker tells them of the construction’s horrific past. They learn that the entire complex was built over a mass grave containing plague victims, who were unceremoniously slaughtered and buried beneath the maze-like corridors.
As the tension and paranoia mounts, the soldiers turn on themselves and each other. A movement in the shadows, a moan of pain echoing through a corridor and the caretaker’s morbid ramblings add to the charged atmosphere.
Like the similarly themed Death Watch (2002), The Bunker is essentially a ghost story held tenuously together by a narrative exploring confinement and dread. The soldiers are not only filled with the anxiety of enemy confrontation, but distressed by their own imagined (and sometimes real) fear of themselves and each other. While much of this is skilfully handled by the director, script writer, cinematographer and the actors themselves, there are two major problems which dilute the impact.
Firstly, the characterisations are confused and confusing. A bit more research into the idiosyncratic ways of German soldiers and how they may have behaved towards one another would have created a more believable group. As it stands, the characters/actors are way too British to pass off as Nazis.
Secondly, and more importantly, the film constantly teases its audience with mounting possibilities, but then pulls out moments before a climax. Those shadows in the dark or disembodied cries emanating from the depths of the bunker appear to serve no purpose other than to scare the hell out of the soldiers and the viewer – or do they? This uncertainty worked brilliantly in The Haunting (1963) because the supernatural events were tightly enmeshed with the psychological make-up of a central character. However, in The Bunker, the creepy occurrences are only vaguely linked to dark sentiments of possession and revenge.
The Bunker is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Considering the film was shot on 16mm, the transfer is, for the most part, very good.
There is significant telecine wobble affecting the text on the opening and closing credits. Aliasing is a major concern during the few daylight scenes, such as the wooden sticks on the ground at 5:22 and later the shimmering trees (6:20) when the camera follows the soldiers through the thick undergrowth.
A light veneer of grain is evident throughout, but rather than being a distraction, it enhances the gritty feel of the film. Heavy grain is used quite effectively during the flashback sequences, such as at 26:17.
Shadow detail clarity is generally excellent, especially so when the soldiers are weaving their way through the bunker’s dusty, labyrinthine-like corridors. However, images can get a little obscure, like when the camera pans the gloomy forest (20:49). Black levels are deep and contrast is stable.
The colour-drained palette, consisting of drab greens, steely-greys and browns, is appropriately subdued and contrasts quite startlingly with the deliberately oversaturated bright greens and oranges used during the flashback sequences.
Although the fairly aggressive Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is excellent, there are enough occasions to demand a 5.1 or DTS upgrade.
There is some ecstatic, discrete left-to-right channel separation during bullet fire at 10:34, but the zinging ammo would have sounded quite spectacular if the surrounds were put to use. The creaking iron doors (18:11) and the incredibly eerie harmonica tune emanating from the dark forest (30:11) would have been more powerful if allowed to creep up from behind.
Even the dramatic opening theme and monologue have enormous potential, but because of the limitations of a 2-channel mix don’t quite reach that point of satisfying aural immersion. Also, a couple of subwoofer-enhanced rumblings from the bowels of the bunker would have been an added bonus.
Dialogue is clearly audible, which is fortunate as there is no English subtitle option.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a dull listen. The participants sound self-conscious and struggle to find anything of interest to talk about. They offer a few mildly eyebrow-raising anecdotes about the actors and the problems of making a low-budget film, but much of what they have to say revolves around describing their favourite scenes in detail.
To make matters worse, there’s a loud irritating audio hum present throughout the commentary’s running time, and intermittent excessive audio static, as if the participants were scraping their microphones across sandpaper.
This modest segment doesn’t overstay its welcome and is an interesting watch and listen. Rob Green offers his “life-is-shit” take on why he believes people are attracted to horror movies. The principal cast and crew analyse their roles and what the film meant to them. Between interviews there’s some terrific behind-the-scenes, make-up application and on-set production footage.
This is a highly engaging extended scene. It adds a depth to the Schenke character that was sorely lacking in the final cut. Unfortunately, much of his dialogue was removed for pacing reasons.
The following deleted scenes are presented without commentary, but after watching them you realise they don’t add any value to the story:
• About the ambush (1:53)
• Death trap (1:07)
Theatrical trailer (1:35) People around here have unpleasant stories about this place…
The Region 1 and Region 2 (U.K.) releases are almost identical, except the Region 1 is not 16x9 enhanced. Compared to these two editions our Region 4 misses out on:
• Two short films by the Director: The Black Cat and The Trick
• Trailers for Ankle Biters (a bizarre low-budget film about vampire dwarves), Escape from Afghanistan, Raptor, The Dummy
• What the press said: 16 positive text grabs sourced from a variety of magazines and newspapers.
However, there is also an R2 (Dutch) version released by HOM vision. It’s identical to the Region 2 (UK), but includes English Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS mixes, which makes the Dutch version the one of choice.
Bursting with potential, The Bunker has a truly horrific tale to tell, but is ultimately let down by a thoughtless ending and a narrative worn threadbare by ambiguity.
|DVD||Yamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output|
|Display||Yamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||get a marshall stack, and crank it up.|
|Speakers||2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.|