During an atomic war, a large group of survivors live in a sealed bunker underground. But things are not what they seem. It is revealed early in the film that the setting and even the survivors are all fake! The whole setup is simply a L.A.R.P. If you’re unsure what this is, it stands for Live Action Role Playing, meaning people are pretending and acting, engaging with a fake setting and scenarios. One actress working to give the players a real experience is Laura (Gaia Weiss). When she’s not in character, she meets with Greg (Lorenzo Richelmy), the mastermind of the entire game.
One night, Laura meets with Greg and reveals that she’s pregnant. The two also discuss the current game in motion, and Greg reveals that a big surprise is in store for all the players, including Laura. He refuses to give any more details, but the game is interrupted when Laura returns to work. Somehow, the power is mysteriously cut off, forcing the L.A.R.P to end, and the players are escorted to safety above ground. But the actors and workers of the game are curious about what’s going on.
To make matters worse, the staff discover that Greg is also missing. A small group of people go looking for Greg, also trying to figure out how this role-playing adventure got interrupted. But while looking around, Laura begins to believe there’s a ghostly presence underground with them that may be the cause of everything going wrong. The question is, can our leads survive the night and escape above ground before it’s too late?
The Bunker Game is a mixture of many genres, including thriller and horror. It begins with an unusual time setting and situation. The fact this world is fake isn’t a major spoiler or reveal as the actors and setting are obviously not real right from the start. I had a sigh of relief when the film revealed its true self, as my first impressions were poor.
The film has multiple characters, but the prime focus is on Laura. The other characters are given little to no back story, meaning viewers have very little interest or care factor about their survival. Laura’s biggest drawcard is her connection with the man in charge of the game, Greg. But as a character, Greg isn’t likeable and seems overconfident, cocky and generally disconnected to Laura, even more so when she reveals her deepest secret to him. Laura has the most determination to find the truth about Greg and the possible ghostly presence. The mysterious plot was a minor strength that kept me invested.
Those seeking something fast-paced and quick should not look here. Characters spend the majority of their time walking around with flashlights, going from room to room. Sometimes they search in pairs, or in true horror cliche, they go look on their own, which results in predictable consequences. It’s a long wait for any major plot development to occur as well as any exciting or mysterious kills.
Visually, while the film is extremely dark for the majority, I enjoyed the dark look and tone. It certainly has the right style for this kind of film, and the potential of jump scares and creepiness should have worked wonderfully here as a film. But it’s just too slow. The scare factor isn’t here, jump scares are obvious, and the kills generally occur off-screen, again, attempting to be scary.
Overall, while I love the concept of this film and enjoyed the dark, creepy visuals set design, as a horror, it doesn’t manage to deliver the scares or bring an exciting story to life. It’s also insanely slow. It’s a long wait for any real plot development, or character kills to occur. One major character and a mysterious plot outline attempt to carry the film, but sadly, it isn’t enough to win horror fans. Surrounding characters are uninteresting, and the plot, for the most part, is dull, like watching fresh paint dry. It’s a truly great concept, and I wish the end results were more epic and memorable. The Bunker Game (2022) Available on Shudder from 17th March!