M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Six of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2015 and going through September 30, 2016. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on January 21, 2016. Available on DVD, BluRay, and On Demand from Artsploitation Films! Also streaming on Tubi!
DER BUNKER (2015)
Nikias Chryssos, who directed the rather straight-forward and rock solid actioner TOWER BLOCK, goes into the realm of absurdity with DER BUNKER. This is a film that seems to be riding a wave of oddity and eccentricity along with films like RUBBER, DOGTOOTH, THE TAINT, and the upcoming king of oddball cinema THE GREASY STRANGLER.
When a weary nameless traveler referred to as The Student (Pit Bukowski from last year’s unforgettable DER SAMURAI) shows up at an underground residence in the middle of the woods, the seemingly normal family politely takes him in and gives him a room in order for him to work on his studies. But once he is all set up in the room, he is introduced to Klaus (Daniel Fripan), a simple adult who is treated like a young boy by Mother (Oona von Maydell) and Father (David Scheller). The Student is soon convinced, or more accurately blackmailed into teaching Klaus as Father’s supervised studies do not seem to be working. Klaus is destined to become the President according to his eccentric family, but his remedial marks in school indicate he is not as bright as his parents believe. While Father cleans the house and wears an apron, spouting his qualifications as both a comedian and an award winning scientist, and Mother speaks to a spirit in the walls while breastfeeding Klaus before bedtime, the Student is finding it increasingly difficult to get his own work done as is burdened with the task to educate Klaus about the world.
DER BUNKER is an odd bird of a film, but once you get past the weird peculiarities of the four members of the cast, it becomes a fable of sorts about unrealistic expectations of family, the state of education, the frustrations of the educator, the distinction of the educated vs. the uneducated, and sheer perversity of the typical family unit. Sure there are odd moments such as the Student’s method of drawing scribbles and finding the deepest of meanings in them or Father’s joke night where he dons clown makeup and reads a joke to the family, only to explain it in great detail afterwards or Mother’s disgusting open wound on her leg that seems to be the source of the voice she has heard since adolescence, or even Klaus’ bizarre choice in clothing and dainty, little hats. But apart from that there is a heartwarming tale of a friendship made between the Student and Klaus, as well as a powerful message about education and everything that is wrong with it. Decorating these themes with a heaping helping of weirdness, DER BUNKER is a sort of odd little Christmas tree with all sorts of meaning beyond the strange baubles and gaudy tinsel.
Pit Bukowski is a force to b reckoned with and I can’t wait until he breaks through as an international star. His memorable performance as the titular character in DER SAMURAI showed he has the fortitude to deliver shocks, but here he gives a more reserved performance as the Student that is just as powerful. The entire cast is brilliant. Oona von Maydell is plainly beautiful, yet seductive and menacing all at once. David Scheller’s delivers a complex performance as a man who is basically demasculinized by his wife and the sudden appearance of the Student. And the simple oddity that is Daniel Fripan steals every scene he is in as the not-so-little Klaus. Fripan is a child in a man’s body and while this could have been an opportunity to play this role for laughs, he instead mimics the movements in his hands, posture, and phonetic delivery that makes you forget he is a man and believe he is actually the 8 years old he says he is.
Things get extremely dark by the end of DER BUNKER and if a grown ass man being treated as a child doesn’t disturb you, the bleak and bloody final moments most likely will. Things get extremely stylish towards the end with fantastic lighting, bizarre twists, and breathtaking beauty to all of that madness unfolding. DER BUNKER is another indie gem that I felt enveloped by while watching.
THE 2015-2016 COUNTDOWN!
#19 – DER BUNKER
#20 – DECAY
#21 – EMELIE
#22 – NINA FOREVER
#23 – HUSH
#24 – THE MIND’S EYE
#25 – DARLING
#26 – SUN CHOKE
#27 – SUMMER CAMP
#28 – BASKIN
#29 – HOLIDAYS
#30 – THE HALLOW
#31 – SOUTHBOUND
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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