Review: ‘Bunker’ (2023), starring Eddie Ramos, Luke Baines, Julian Feder, Patrick Moltane, Michael Mihm and Quinn Moran

March 6, 2023

by Carla Hay

Luke Baines and Eddie Ramos in “Bunker” (Photo by Nancy J. Parisi/Blue Fox Entertainment)

“Bunker” (2023)

Directed by Adrian Langley

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed city in Germany during World War I, the horror film “Bunker” features a nearly all-white cast of characters (with one Latino) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A group of American and British military men find themselves trapped in a bunker with a mysterious German soldier, and it isn’t long before they find out that something evil is lurking in the bunker. 

Culture Audience: “Bunker” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching horror movies that take place during a war, no matter how poorly made and dull the movies are.

Patrick Moltane in “Bunker” (Photo by Nancy J. Parisi/Blue Fox Entertainment)

An evil creature isn’t the only thing that’s hiding in the World War I horror movie “Bunker,” because a good story and credible acting are nowhere to be found in this dreadfully dull misfire. The last 15 minutes of the movie are especially awful. The vast majority of “Bunker” is an unimaginative and repetitive depiction of World War I soldiers trapped in a bunker and being in various states of denial that something evil is lurking in the deep recesses of the bunker. At various times, some of the trapped military men start vomiting up a milky white substance, which is supposed to be scary, but it just looks like they have dairy indigestion.

Directed by Adrian Langley and written by Michael Huntsman, “Bunker” is a movie based on a half-baked idea that obviously got made into a movie because the filmmakers had nepotism connections. Michael Huntsman’s father, James Huntsman, who is one of the movie’s producers, owns Blue Fox Entertainment, the distributor of “Bunker.” It’s not that original to do a horror movie about people being trapped somewhere with something evil, but some not-very-original horror movies that have this concept end up being noteworthy because the story is genuinely scary and well-crafted. Unfortunately, “Bunker” has none of the qualities that could have made it an entertaining thriller.

“Bunker” (which takes place an unnamed city in Germany during World War I) is filled with a lot of cringeworthy dialogue and even worse acting. (“Bunker” was actually filmed in Buffalo, New York.) It’s a story so poorly conceived, limited in scope, and shallow, it’s barely enough to make a short film. Instead, viewers will have to sit through 108 minutes of watching military men trapped in a bunker and doing the stupidest things possible in their attempts to escape.

The military men, who are British and American, are trapped in this bunker after going on a mission to No Man’s Land to attack Germans. There’s no explanation for why this military unit is a mixture of British and Americans. The unit’s leader is Lieutenant Turner (played by Patrick Moltane), a pompous Brit who acts like a know-it-all when he’s actually the one who shows the least common sense. Moltane’s acting, which is very hammy yet stiff, is easily the worst in this movie that’s a cesspool of mediocre-to-terrible performances.

The men under Turner’s command are Private Segura (played by Eddie Ramos), a courageous medic from the U.S. 90th Infantry Division the U.S. Army; Private Baker (played by Julian Feder), a terrified American teenager, who has recently joined the military; Private Gray (played by Michael Mihm), a racist British bully; Private Lewis (played by Quinn Moran), a very religious Brit; and Lance Corporal Walker (played by Adriano Gatto), a paranoid American.

Before getting trapped in the bunker, Segura and Baker had a harrowing experience above ground, when Baker was attacked by a German soldier (played by Samuel Huntsman), who appeared to be dead on a battlefield. Segura came to the aid of a wounded Baker, who stabbed the attacker to death in self-defense. It’s the first time that Baker has killed someone, and he is haunted by the experience.

However, the movie deals with this trauma in glib and superficial soundbites. Later, when Baker confides in Segura about how much this killing is disturbing Baker, this is Segura’s response: “Compassion is lost in conflict. It’s you or them.” Baker then says of war combat, “I just shouldn’t be so thoughtless.” It’s an example of the movie’s atrocious dialogue.

The men find the bunker, but get trapped inside when bombing above ground causes an avalanche of rocks to block the bunker entrance. There’s a radio inside the bunker, but Turner gets angry when Segura uses the radio try to call for help. Turner shouts at Segura: “You’re not here to think! You’re here to follow my orders!”

Turner says that calling for help is “sacrificing our defenses,” because it could alert the enemy. Instead, Turner’s plan to escape is for the men to randomly dig an underground tunnel, even though they have no idea where the digging will lead. The digging is also counterproductive, because they need to go above ground, not further underground.

Meanwhile, the men find out that there’s someone else who’s already in the bunker: a barely conscious German soldier named Kurt (played by Luke Baines), whose hands have been nailed to a cross. The men remove Kurt from this crucifix and try to get him to talk. Segura gives Kurt medical aid. At first, Kurt stays mute and pretends that he doesn’t know English. Eventually, Kurt stops this charade and begins communicating in English, mostly with Segura.

The movie has a foreshadowing of the mayhem to come before the men go on their unlucky trek to No Man’s Land. Gray tries to scare Baker by ominously saying that there’s a legend that the ghouls of No Man’s Land will kill people: “They’re not afraid to fill the trenches, looking to fill their bellies with the tastiest meat.” And in case it isn’t made clear that Gray is a racist, he calls Segura a “greaser” and treats Segura with disdain.

The visual effects in “Bunker” are straight out of the Corny Horror Movies Handbook: As soon as the men get trapped in the bunker, a mysterious cloud of smoke suddenly appears and seems to be moving in their direction. A milky white substance keeps getting vomited up by some of the men. One of the men vomits up this milky white substance that’s mixed with something resembling a deformed squid, but dimwit leader Turner keeps denying that something is seriously wrong.

Meanwhile, the men soon run low on food and water. The only rations found in the bunker are grossly spoiled and inedible. In this dire situation, Turner (like a fool) orders the men to keep digging, when the men should be using their energy for a better escape plan. Kurt is usually shown smirking and giving creepy stares, which make it obvious that Kurt knows more than he’s telling.

Segura secretly continues to use the radio to call for help, and he makes contact with a British military officer. But viewers who are good at voice recognition can easily tell who’s behind the voice that’s communicating with Segura, who apparently is too dimwitted to notice. Therefore, when something is revealed about the radio, it should come as no surprise. And during this crisis, Segura makes time to write in his journal, which is supposed to add gravitas to the last shot in the movie.

“Bunker” is a slog of tired horror clichés of shallow characters trapped somewhere, with predictable conflicts and deaths. The movie has a melodramatic musical score that’s supposed to evoke movie thrillers of the World War I era, but this music just sounds bombastic and overly contrived. Segura is obviously supposed to be the most heroic person in the group (and Ramos is adequate in his efforts to make this character believable), but there’s no character development or real insight into anyone in “Bunker.”

The film editing of “Bunker” is often sloppy, while the movie’s cinematography has very inconsistent lighting that blinks at certain moments, in the movie’s lukewarm attempt to create a foreboding atmosphere. The movie’s cinematography often makes the bunker look more like a kiddie haunted house instead of a genuinely terrifying place. “Bunker” makes no effort to craft a cohesive story or interesting personalities for these characters. As for the evil lurking in the bunker, don’t expect an explanation for it either—just like there’s no good explanation for why this movie exists, except as an example of how nepotism in the movie industry can sometimes result in bad movies getting made.

Blue Fox Entertainment released “Bunker” in select U.S. cinemas on February 24, 2023.

Review: ‘Escape the Field,’ starring Jordan Claire Robbins, Theo Rossi, Tahirah Sharif and Shane West

May 7, 2022

by Carla Hay

Theo Rossi, Jordan Claire Robbins, Shane West, Elena Juatco and Julian Feder in “Escape the Field” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“Escape the Field”

Directed by Emerson Moore

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. location, the horror film “Escape the Field” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with one Asian person and one black person) representing the middle-class and working-class.

Culture Clash: Six strangers find themselves trapped in a mysterious corn field, where a sinister attacker awaits.

Culture Audience: “Escape the Field” will appeal mainly to people who don’t mind watching nonsensical and tedious horror movies.

Tahirah Sharif, Elena Juatco, Shane West, Julian Feder, Jordan Claire Robbins and Theo Rossi in “Escape the Field” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“Escape the Field” is a woefully incompetent ripoff of the “Escape Room” movies, but it’s set in a corn field instead of an escape room. “Escape the Field” wastes this “stuck in a maze” concept on a stupid series of events, gibberish dialogue, and an abrupt conclusion that leaves many questions unanswered. And the movie’s monster has a laughably bad costume design.

Directed by Emerson Moore, “Escape the Field” is just a series of scenes with people walking and sometimes running around a corn field and trying unsuccessfully to leave. The monster (played by Dillon Jagersky) doesn’t appear until the last third of the film. And when the creature appears, viewers might have a hard time taking this monster seriously, because it literally looks like someone who’s stuck in a makeshift Halloween costume with some tattered plant leaves to cover most of the facial area. “Escape the Field” has the expected bloody gore, but it’s not very scary.

“Escape the Field” director Moore co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with Sean Wathen and Joshua Dobkin. They use a template copied from the “Escape Room” movies: Six strangers from different backgrounds find themselves trapped in a remote area and have to solve a series of puzzles to try to escape. The “Escape Room” movies are shallow horror stories, but at least they have more innovation in the puzzle solving than the silly tripe of “Escape the Field.”

The six strangers who find themselves stuck in the movie’s dead-end corn field are:

  • Sam (played by Jordan Claire Robbins), a workaholic doctor, who wakes up in the field wearing her hospital scrubs and with a gun and a single bullet next to her.
  • Tyler (played by Theo Rossi), a “nice guy” divorced father, who appears in the field carrying matches.
  • Ryan (played by Shane West), an ill-tempered military war veteran, who appears in the field carrying a lantern.
  • Denise (played by Elena Juacto), a standoffish smart aleck, who appears in the field carrying a knife.
  • Ethan (played by Julian Feder), a meek teenager in a prep-school uniform, who appears in the field carrying a compass.
  • Cameron (played by Tahirah Sharif), an outspoken computer coder, who at first tells everyone that she doesn’t have anything with her, but she secretly does have an item in her possession.

These six strangers do not know how they ended up in this corn field, but they all say that they remember hearing a siren before waking up in the field, which is located somewhere in the United States. The people in the corn field see a crash-test dummy dressed up as a scarecrow, which serves an obvious purpose. However, these dimwits don’t inspect this “scarecrow” until much later than they should have.

Don’t expect to find out much about these characters except a few basic facts. Tyler (whose occupation is never stated) mentions that he has a 7-year-old daughter named Sedona Mackenzie. Ryan, who is a rage-aholic, briefly shows a vulnerable side when he confesses that he feels guilty over losing an entire squad who died in war combat.

Ethan, who’s a student at a boarding school, apparently has “daddy issues,” because he says his inattentive widower father just “leaves me at school to rot.” Denise, who works for the Pentagon, tells everyone that she thinks this corn field maze is some kind of government experiment. Denise is also wearing nothing but lingerie underneath an oversized shirt because she says she was planning a romantic night in bed with her boyfriend when she was suddenly transported to this corn field.

Cameron is a Brit who identifies as a queer woman or lesbian, because she mentions that she’s in a romantic relationship with a woman. Ryan is immediately hostile to Cameron because he thinks there’s something suspicious about why she didn’t wake up in the field with an object, like the other people in the group. All of the objects have the same mysterious symbol. Ryan continues to bully Cameron throughout the movie.

“Escape the Field” has some problematic racial overtones in how these characters are written and portrayed. Denise and Cameron—the only people in the movie who aren’t white—are depicted as difficult complainers. Cameron in particular is branded as the group “outsider” who is treated as if she shouldn’t be trusted. Meanwhile, overly aggressive Ryan is portrayed with a tone of being a war hero, to justify all the awful things he does in the movie. A mid-credits scene just fuels this movie’s unspoken racial animosity.

Predictably, Sam and Tyler are the movie’s two potential love interests. Out of all of the people in the group, Sam and Tyler spend the most time together and end up becoming the closest to each other. “Escape the Field” director Moore has a cameo role as a businessman who appears briefly in the corn field and then disappears. It’s a vanity cameo appearance, because it has no real bearing on the plot. The acting in this movie ranges from mediocre to irritatingly terrible, with Robbins giving the worst and stiffest acting performance out of all of the movie’s cast members.

Don’t expect any meaningful dialogue in “Escape the Field.” It’s an extremely dull and repetitive exposition dump, with no character development or anything really terrifying. The movie’s direction and editing are sloppy. The haphazard puzzles make no sense, and the reason why these people ended up in the field is never explained. The only thing worse than being stuck in this moronic maze is being stuck watching “Escape the Field” until its very ludicrous and pathetic end.

Lionsgate released “Escape the Field” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on May 6, 2022. The movie’s release on Blu-ray and DVD is set for June 21, 2022.

Review: ‘The Doorman’ (2020), starring Ruby Rose and Jean Reno

October 15, 2020

by Carla Hay

Ruby Rose in “The Doorman” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“The Doorman” (2020)

Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in New York City, the action flick “The Doorman” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few Asians) representing the middle-class and criminal underground.

Culture Clash: A former Marine takes a job as a doorman at an upscale apartment building and finds herself battling with art thieves who take her and some of her family members hostage.

Culture Audience: “The Doorman” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching formulaic and forgettable action movies.

Jean Reno in “The Doorman” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“The Doorman” is one of those “taken hostage and trapped in a building” movies that’s nothing more than a predictable and uncreative variation of the classic 1988 Bruce Willis film “Die Hard.” Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, “The Doorman” makes almost no attempt to do anything new with the formula that’s been endlessly copied since “Die Hard” became an influential blockbuster. The only fairly unusual aspect of the film is that the action hero in this movie is a woman. And the movie is a reminder that being a front-lobby attendant is such a male-dominated job that it’s still referred to as being a doorman.

Three people are credited with writing “The Doorman” screenplay: Lior Chefetz, Joe Swanson and Devon Rose. And apparently none of them could think of a plausible reason for why a cell phone couldn’t be used to get help in this emergency situation when the hero of the story temporarily breaks free from the hostages but is still in the apartment building where the home invasion takes place. Viewers are expected to accept the flimsy explanation that cell-phone service isn’t working in that particular building because the building is undergoing renovations.

Before the hostage situation happens, the movie gives a brief introduction to the protagonist of “The Doorman” and the life she had before she began working in the upscale New York City apartment building that’s taken hostage. Her name is Ali Gorsky (played by Ruby Rose), a serious-minded and stoic type who was a sergeant in the Marines. She was part of an elite U.S. military team stationed in an unnamed country. One of her duties was being a bodyguard for an unnamed female U.S. ambassador (played by Andreea Vasile) and the ambassador’s daughter Nira (played by Andreea Androne), who’s about 7 or 8 years old.

While traveling to a speaking engagement, the ambassador is in a convoy of cars in front of and behind her car as protection as they drive through a secluded wooded area. Ali and Nira are along for the ride too. Suddenly, numerous gunmen emerge from the woods and ambush the fleet of cars. The assassins have war weapons, including a rocket launcher, while the military defenders, who just have regular guns, are quickly killed off, one by one.

All of the assassins’ victims die except for Ali, who tries in vain to save the ambassador and her daughter, who become easy targets in the back seat of a car when a rocket launcher is aimed right at them. The explosion propels Ali into the woods in some very cheesy and not-very-believable visual effects, which morph into Ali in New York City waking up from a nightmare where she remembered what happened on that terrible day.

Needless to say, by the time Ali is seen in New York City, she has already left the military in disgrace and she needs another job. She meets with her uncle Pat (played by Philip Whitchurch) at a local bar, where she’s reluctant to talk about her traumatic experience. Pat works as a contractor for building repairs and renovations, and he tells Ali about a job opening for a doorman in the high-rise apartment building where he’s doing renovations. She reluctantly agrees to interview for the job.

The building is called The Carrington, and it’s in an upscale area on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It’s the type of building that was built before World War II and used to be a hotel. Most of the residents have temporarily moved out because of the renovations. However, some of the residents who are still living there have reasons for why they’ve been allowed to stay in the building.

This poorly written movie doesn’t really show Ali interviewing for the job, which she gets shortly before Easter. She just shows up and meets someone named Borz Blasevic (played by Aksel Hennie), who presents himself as the chief doorman/superintendent, and he immediately tells her to get dressed in the work uniform in the unisex locker room. Borz knows that Ali was referred to by Pat, but Pat tells Ali that he doesn’t want Borz to know that Ali is related to Pat.

And it just so happens that Ali has other relatives in the building, and they are among the few residents who are still living there during the renovations: Her brother-in-law Jon Stanton (played by Rupert Evans), a professor who’s originally from England; Jon’s son Max (played by Julian Feder), who’s about 15 or 16 years old; and Jon’s daughter Lily (played by Kila Lord Cassidy), who’s about 11 or 12 years old.

Jon is a widower who used to be married to Ali’s late sister, whose cause of death is not mentioned in the movie. It’s also not mentioned how long Ali’s sister has been dead, but it’s implied that it’s been less than two years. Jon is a written as a generic father with not much of a personality. Max, who is often sullen, has antisocial tendencies because he apparently spends a lot of time alone smoking marijuana and playing video games. Lily is a typical “adorable and precocious” kid that movies like this tend to have whenever children are taken hostage.

Jon and his children have been allowed to remain in the building because they aren’t going to stay for much longer: After Easter vacation, they plan to move back to England, where Jon works. After her sister’s death, Ali has been avoiding being around Jon and the kids because of a secret that is very easy to predict from the moment that Jon and Ali first see each other when he finds out that she’s now working in the building.

On her first day on the job, Ali meets two of the other remaining residents in the building: an elderly couple named Bernard Hersh (played by Petre Moraru) and his wife (played by (Delianne Forget), who doesn’t have a first name in the movie. Bernard had a stroke seven years before, he almost never talks, and he’s wheelchair-bound. His wife, who is his caretaker, explains to Ali that building management allowed them to continue living at The Carrington during renovations because moving to another building would upset Bernard too much.

It isn’t long before danger comes to The Carrington, when a French thief named Victor Dubois (played by Jean Reno) and his small gang of henchmen arrive for a home invasion in the Hershes’ apartment. Of course, these thugs had some help from a building insider, and it’s very easy to figure out who that person is in this relatively small cast of characters. This “inside job” criminal barricades the front door from the inside with chains and a padlock, so the hostages can’t escape. (The movie never shows if any back doors or side doors are also barricaded.)

Victor is there to steal some valuable art paintings that are in the building, and Bernard knows where they are. But things go awry because Victor doesn’t know until he gets there that Bernard is nearly mute and can’t really tell the information that Victor wants. This leads to a torture scene and Victor finding out that the Hershes used to live in the apartment where the Stantons currently live.

And guess who’s taken hostage next while they’re having Easter dinner? Ali is off-duty at the Stantons’ apartment, having what she thought would be just an awkward family reunion dinner at Easter. And because she’s off-duty, she happens to be wearing high heels, which are supposed to make her look like a “feminine badass” when she has the inevitable fights with the home invaders.

The rest of “The Doorman” is about Ali trying to save her relatives through a series of often-preposterous scenarios. The Carrington happens to be a building with hidden rooms and hidden dumbwaiter shafts. And there’s an underground tunnel that was supposed to be a subway tunnel but construction on the tunnel was halted decades ago, and the tunnel was sealed up behind a wall.

As the main character in this stereotypical action flick, Rose doesn’t have much to do except act tough and go through the choreographed motions for the fight sequences. Ali shows some glimmers of being humanly vulnerable in moments with Jon and the children. But for the most part, Ali has a very wooden personality, and Rose doesn’t have much acting range to bring more charisma to this formulaic character.

French actor Reno has been playing villains in B-movies for quite some time, so there’s nothing new or exciting that he does in “The Doorman.” He usually portrays the “brains” of a criminal operation who gets other people to do most of the dirty work. In “The Doorman,” the Victor character is no different, except this mastermind criminal makes a lot of stupid and arrogant decisions that just drag the movie out longer, in order to create a false sense of suspense.

“The Doorman” is the type of bad movie that isn’t so bad that it’s laughable. It’s the type of bad movie that will induce boredom because it’s so tiresome in how unimaginative it is. The fight scenes are unremarkable, and the acting is mediocre at best. The characters you expect to get killed are the ones who get killed. The characters you expect to survive are the ones who survive. There are video games that are better than this cliché-ridden, soulless movie.

Lionsgate released “The Doorman” on digital and VOD on October 9, 2020, and on Blu-ray and DVD on October 13, 2020.

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