BURIAL ** UK 2022 Dir: Ben Parker. 95 mins
Despite a suitably portentous score by Alex Baranowski and effectively eerie woodland camerawork by Rein Kotov, this is a disappointingly dull second feature from writer-director Ben Parker, who made the claustrophobic THE CHAMBER (2016).
The framing story initially compels, with the excellent Harriet Walter (who replaced the late Diana Rigg in the role) as a former Soviet translator watching the end of the old Soviet Union on TV news at Christmas, 1991. When her home is invaded by a neo-Nazi (David Alexander), she turns the tables on him and tells the tale of her experiences as a Russian soldier named Brana (Charlotte Vega) in WWII. In response to his belief that she transported Adolf Hitler’s body out of Berlin after finding evidence the Fuhrer had survived, she describes her secret mission at the end of the war – transporting a mysterious casket from Poznan to Moscow. Odd rituals – the need to bury the coffin every night – build an atmosphere of foreboding while, amidst much speculation about the contents, the Nazis crave whats in the box and her accompanying crew (led by Dan Renton Skinner and Tom Felton) generally seek to dismiss the dangers and enjoy the end of the war.
Constructed around a fascinating premise, the build-up is effectively uneasy and Vega fares best in a cast saddled with under-written, uninteresting characters. Sadly, the threats, when revealed, prove underwhelming and the heavy handed dialogue kills any potential suspense: “We should stay and fight these peasant dogs”. It gets more ponderous as it goes along, with silly Nazi “werewolves” and flatly handled confrontations.
Review by Steven West
BURIAL is out now on Digital