The “mystery” surrounding Hitler’s fate at the end of WWII has long been the fodder of conspiracy theorists going back decades. The official historical record states that he committed suicide in his bunker as Soviet forces were capturing the city. However, given that his body was never found, many alleged that Hitler actually survived and escaped.
This decades-long debate is the subject of Shudder’s latest exclusive film Burial. Quite different from their usual content, Burial is much more a historical/war/thriller than typical horror. But it’s equally compelling and suspenseful!
Opening in 1991 with an elderly protagonist, the movie jumps back to 1945 as Brana (Charlotte Vega), a Soviet intelligence officer is tasked with something incredibly secretive. She and a few other soldiers must transport a coffin back to Moscow, the contents of which are none other than the deceased remains of Adolf Hitler himself.
They spend the next few days trekking on foot as taking a plane would arouse suspicion and require flight plans, and this mission is far too sensitive. Along the way, they run into resistance from rogue German forces, hellbent on continuing the fight (despite Germany’s surrender), as well as helpful bystanders like Lukasz (Tom Felton), with whom Brana forms a close bond.
As the rest of Europe symbolically rests from the destructive war finally being over, Brana and her compatriots realize the gravity of what they’re carrying and also what’s to come. One Polish local rightfully points out that while they’re all happy the Nazis are gone, the Bolsheviks have just taken their place as the occupying oppressors.
As far as WWII historical films go, it’s impressive to see period war pieces being done for small budgets. That being said, this movie barely scrapes the surface of the web that it attempts to weave. It mentions briefly in passing the importance of Hitler’s corpse and what it means to a post-war Europe, but it spends more time having its character argue about which route they’re taking than it does on the overall theme it’s trying to portray.
Vega and Felton do a decent job, but the rest of the actors kind of blur together and you tend to forget who is who. In a strange way, the wraparound scenes in 1991 seem more interesting and better acted, and the film might have done better primarily taking place in that setting and cutting to 1945 in flashback here and there.
Burial is hardly the first WWII film that Shudder has dabbled into (see Blood Vessel), but it’s the first one that doesn’t really feel horror-adjacent in any way, shape, or form. It is really cool to see a unique variety of films, including thrillers, but hopefully it doesn’t turn into a trend where popular demand brings in films that seem to have less and less to do with horror.
Overall, Burial’s premise is more interesting than its execution. But if you’re a history buff, you’ll probably get enjoyment out of a single viewing!
What did you think of Burial? Let us know in the comments!