Through the lens of entertainment, it’s easy to look at history as just a prop or background setting to create new stories. However, we must never forget that the past really happened and that with it comes many scars and traumas. This idea is at the forefront of the latest Shudder Exclusive, The Bunker Game.
Alternate History (Minor Spoilers)
Opening with a fake newsreel that outlines an alternative ending to WWII, we see that in this universe, nuclear war broke out in the 1950’s, with many living in bunkers to stay safe from the radiation above. The entire first third of the movie plays out like this strange alternate version of history with a cast of odd characters that don’t seem to quite fit the time they’re in.
All is revealed to actually be a live action role play (LARP), which only raises more questions, but we’ll get to that later. The main players go home after it’s over, while the staff stay behind to clean up. It is here that the movie switches gears from the unusual scenario they were playing to an actual horror film about something creepy happening in the bunker.
To its credit, the movie really uses its unique setting to its advantage. The bunker itself is vast and dark, leaving you feeling empty and creeped out. It’s the type of place that seems fun to explore, but doing so alone would definitely elicit your worst fears.
The Scars of History
Without giving too much away, we soon discover that there was indeed a massacre that occurred in that bunker during the actual WWII, and the trauma of that event has left a supernatural presence which continues today.
On the surface, it does seem like a paint by numbers supernatural thriller about a haunted dwelling. But the more you think about the movie’s themes and greater implications, the more interesting it all gets.
As previously mentioned, it does seem a bit strange that someone would LARP such a scenario as a “4th Reich” Germany with Nazi connnections. However, for those familiar with historical reenactments, there’s an entire sub-industry devoted solely to WWII, and it’s creepily popular for people to play as SS characters. For the most part, it’s because there’s a mystique to that subject matter that draws people in.
The Bunker Game successfully reminds its audience that history is very real and often very tragic. We make jokes about the 300 Spartans or other ancient societies and tragedies, but it would probably be deemed inappropriate to joke the same way about similar events happening today, or within the last few decades.
It’s very fitting that the bunker itself was the site of something terrible that happened, resulting in the innocent being killed. And that this LARP company is using this very bunker for their ill-advised game that trivializes the very real struggle and trauma that people went through.
The movie doesn’t outright demonize this, but rather it asks us to think about it. So while its narrative and tone are a bit of a mixed bag. Its overall execution does provoke a thoughtful response.
What did you think of The Bunker Game? Let us know in the comments!
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