- English subtitles
First-time director Nikias Chryssos veils social criticism in a bizarre mix of genres. Sci-fi, horror and arthouse collide head-on in Der Bunker, and from the smouldering ashes emerges a story about growing up and education that’s as humorous as it is disturbing.
It’s as if Chryssos is the adopted son of Alex van Warmerdam and David Lynch. His highly stylized decors and gloomy lighting create an ominous atmosphere. Meanwhile his simple and absurd story covers grand themes like child abuse, the school system and the pressure to perform that the adult world puts on children.
When a student (Pit Bukowski) wants to work on his scientific theories in peace, he rents a room with a family living in the woods. But the view of a lake they advertised with turns out to be a picture on the wall, and their home is actually an underground bunker. Things within the family are a bit spooky as well. Not only does eight-year-old Klaus (Daniel Fripan) still get breastfed by his mother, he also looks suspiciously like a grown man. And all of this goes on under the rule of Heinrich, an alien supreme being who hides in a rather extraordinary place.
The film plays out like a nightmare, in which Chryssos translates the fears and insecurities of both parent and child into compelling cinema. This unique universe is ruled by dream logic, so even though the student is a bit surprised, he continues to be part of the household. He is sucked further and further into the vagueness, until, finally, he is given the task of teaching Klaus in order for him to become the president of America someday. An impossible task, with an even more impossible end goal. But even after all those difficulties and misery, the moment arrives when the child leaves the nest. With a twist. Because letting go is scary as well.
Translation: Marjan Westbroek