Fantastic Fest 2015: German oddity “Der Bunker” delivers disturbing laughs

Daniel Frippan stars in "Der Bunker"

Daniel Frippan stars in “Der Bunker”

With all of the potential mayhem that awaits viewers in each Fantastic Fest screening, it can be a nice surprise when you stumble into a movie that makes you laugh. As the opening credits of “Der Bunker” began with the cast and crew names written out in a candy-colored font inspired by heavy metal album covers, all bets seemed to be off as to what to expect.

In the debut feature film from Niklas Chryssos, we meet a character simply known as Student (Pit Bukowski). He is working on a project that requires absolute quiet and focus. He answers an ad to rent out a room with a family in an abandoned military bunker, hopeful that it will be the peaceful retreat he needs to complete his work. The lack of an advertised lake-view in his room, which is actually underground with no windows, turns out to be the first of many problems he will encounter during his stay.

Student is greeted by Mother (Oona von Maydell), Father (David Scheller) and not-so-young Klaus (Daniel Fripan) when he arrives. Klaus says he is 8-years-old and lives in the room of a child, but looks to be about 30. Mother and Father have high hopes for Klaus (they want him to be President), but their efforts to homeschool him have not proven to be very successful. When Student comes up a little short on his rent, they decide that he should be the one to smarten Klaus up. 

This is a very strange and isolated family, so much so that it’s almost hard to imagine why they advertised a room for rent in the first place. Attempting to educate Klaus proves to be a challenging task and Student would rather be able to work on his own project. Stuck negotiating between the demanding mother and comical pseudo-intellectualism of the father, Student quickly finds that he’s bitten off more than he can chew.

Chryssos, who also wrote the script, applies the notion of being stuck in a creative hell quite literally. With only harsh fluorescent lights to guide his way, the claustrophobic space many miles away from the rest of the civilized world traps Student in a physical hell, accommodating his hosts even while recognizing he may have worn out his welcome.

Absurdly funny with a bizarre twist, it’s safe to say that you’ve never seen anything quite like “Der Bunker.”

“Der Bunker” has been acquired by Artsploitation Films and it is expected to receive a limited theatrical release later this year. It plays again at 5 p.m. on Monday. 

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