Burial Image


By Alex Saveliev | September 2, 2022

Ben Parker’s WWII thriller Burial almost wastes a great concept. I say “almost” because it contains scenes of raw power, intermittently grasping greatness. The production values are excellent, and it’s visually striking. Ultimately, however, the viewer’s left frustrated, imagining what could’ve been.

Said concept can be summed up succinctly: A group of soldiers is tasked to bring Hitler’s body back to Stalin. Led by the tough and persistent Brana (Charlotte Weber), the men are expectedly toxic, as they are Evil Russians, hell-bent on pillaging and raping. Yet Brana marches on, driven by her loyalty to her country, undeterred by the surrounding toxicity.

After burying a fallen comrade and waxing existential around a fire, our antiheroes stumble upon a shed. Things kick into high gear, the film flirting with horror: werewolves and visions come into play, faces are blown off, and the central cadaver is continuously desecrated. Another, even more toxic, group surfaces, hunting Brana and her crew, determined to get their hands on that corpse. It all culminates in a fiery finale.

The plot of Burial is bookended by an odd, 1991 London-set sequence, just as Gorbachev resigns. It involves Anna (Harriet Walter) divulging her story to a neo-Nazi who broke into her house and whom she drugs. Though Walter is splendid as usual, this subplot feels unnecessary and tacked on.

What sticks in the mind after the credits roll are individual sequences: Brana saves a girl from getting raped by the cruelest member of her group, Vadim (Dan Renton Skinner). She’s saved by the kindly hunk, Lukasz (Tom Felton). A shoot-off, with our heroes trapped in a shed, is intense. Perhaps the highlight is the sequence wherein the box carrying the dictator’s body is placed on a table, and a local woman smells death. The box is then pried open, revealing the decomposing, twisted cadaver – a withering ember of a monster.

A group of soldiers is tasked to bring Hitler’s body back to Stalin.”

Rein Kotov’s crisp cinematography of damp Eastern-European forests and figures carrying Hitler’s remains against a steel-blue dawn coat the film in a faux-artsy veneer. Look closer, and the plot starts to sag, running in circles. Not helping matters is the sometimes-confusing editing and underexposed night sequences.

The silly dialogue throughout Burial further exacerbates things. “It’s the smoke,” Brana says. “It makes you see things.” In another instance, she yells, “He’s dead!” as Lukasz repeatedly beats on Hitler’s body. “Die again!” he seethes. There seems to have been a disagreement, or perhaps complete disregard, over the accents. Everyone speaks British, yet Polish, German, and Russian randomly sneak in.

The demonization of Russians as the raping, pillaging, heartless, sexist pigs is worth mentioning. Why not, right? It’s a good time to openly demonize the Russkis. “Bolsheviks, Germans – all the same,” a traumatized woman emotes shakily. “Only Bolsheviks stay. Murdering, raping… I’m not afraid of Germans. They are not a threat anymore.” “Because we forced them out,” a Russian scumbag suggests. She pauses. “And who will force you out?” she demands. Any Russian showing hints of mercy marks a small miracle. So these vodka-guzzling perverts are human beings too?

Imagine the same treatment of any other nation or race, and you get the picture. As the fearless hero, Weber acts as the saving grace to a point. She is still vehemently patriotic, choosing her mission over human lives. But the actress adds enough charisma and passion to elevate the character a notch above the one-note stereotype. Just watch her deliver that heartfelt speech towards the end (“He was just a man. A coward of a man.”).

The biggest flaw of Burial is how dead-serious it is. Parker just can’t sustain the sort of intensity, poignancy, and nuance such a treatment would require. He seems much more comfortable staging gunfights, blowing brains out, and occasionally delivering a memorable sermon. A moderately fun B-flick masquerading as an “elevated” genre piece, it doesn’t quite bury itself but never quite finds its footing either.

Burial (2022)

Directed and Written: Ben Parker

Starring: Tom Felton, Charlotte Vega, Barry Ward, Dan Renton Skinner, Harriet Walter, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Burial Image

"…visually striking."

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