When thinking about the end of the world, it’s common to conjure up images of gas masks, vehicular warfare, and eating dog food with a bowie knife. Until Bunker Burger, written and directed by Adam Yorke, few have considered the awkwardness. This isn’t the forced awkwardness you’ve seen in nearly every comedy production since Napoleon Dynamite, but the natural awkwardness that stems from deciding who gets to live and who doesn’t.
It’s a real consideration that must be had. Resources are scarce, so as much as you might be tempted go full Mother Teresa and let everyone into your bunker, doing so would mean the survival of no one. It would be equally foolish to let people in randomly. If you only have enough resources for twelve people, you might as well make sure those twelve people can each offer something unique and valuable to not only the group at hand, but the future of humanity.
“…instead of proving her worth in a specific field, Eve must prove the totality of her worth as a human being.”
This is the pragmatic environment that Eve (Sara Mitich) walks into when she’s taken from the outside world into a bunker, which is far more than a roomy vault. If the guy holding up the “Repent: The End is Nigh” sign next to the Wendy’s had the income of Warren Buffett, this is the kind of bunker he would kick back in. At the bunker’s entrance, Eve is met not by a desperate man who is glad to see another human face that has escaped death, but by a man with the cadence of workplace hospitality. He’s friendly, but in a distant, telegraphed way—walking and talking, never making eye contact for too long. As he explains the lay of the land to Eve, the words, “and there’s the coffee machine,” always seem on the tip of his tongue. What does escape the tongue are the bunker’s luxurious toilets, which he likens to “a little person wiping your a*s.”
Following this introduction is something akin to a job interview, only instead of proving her worth in a specific field, Eve must prove the totality of her worth as a human being. To make sure she’s at the top of her game, a fresh cheeseburger is placed in front of her, as a shining example of the bunker life that awaits. This interview is the bulk of Bunker Burger and is played for laughs, most of which come through. Yorke wrings out nearly every ruthlessly comic moment that could potentially arise in such an interview, particularly when Eve pivots from selling herself to pointing out the weakest links in the bunker’s current community. As things devolve, I was reminded of the surprisingly close relationship between desperation and absurdity.
“Yorke wrings out nearly every ruthlessly comic moment that could potentially arise in such an interview…”
Aside from the inherent fun of finding humor in a dire scenario, Yorke and the cast do good work keeping the comic timing is as tight as possible, which is especially important given the tension of the characters’ circumstances. Yorke also shoots the movie in a way that’s not overbearing, unlike the other small-time directors desperately trying to prove their worth by prancing in front of the camera—figuratively, of course. He keeps the focus on the characters, the dialogue, and the empty space between, all to good effect.
Bunker Burger (2019) Written and Directed by Adam Yorke. Starring Enrico Colantoni, Sara Mitich, Tony Babcock, Jennifer Vallance, Sarah Gnocato, Bethanie Ho, Ronnie Rowe Jr., Jake Raymond, Kyana Teresa, Ava Augustin, Danijel Mandic, Greg Zajac, Tanya Bevan, Grant Landry, Emily Siobhan McCourt.
7 out of 10 stars