Pop Culture

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Burial

Title: Burial

Describe This Movie In One Mr. Show Quote:
SPANK: Sir, could you please tell the court your theory?
EXPERT: Well, if you'll all take the magic pills I've provided, I will *show* you my theory.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Weekend at Adolf's.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 2 "Die, Bart, Dies" out of 5.
Tagline: "Some secrets should stay buried."

Better Tagline: "They saved Hitler's brain. Sort of."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: In the final days of the European campaign in World War II, a squad of Soviet soldiers led by intelligence officer Brana Vasilyeva (Charlotte Vega) are tasked with bringing Hitler's remains back to Moscow. Arrayed against them are German soldiers desperate to preserve the myth of the Führer.

"Critical" Analysis: Burial actually opens in 1991, as the fall of the Berlin Wall is announced, providing the film with its bookends involving an older Brana (now going by the name "Anna Marshall" (Harriet Walter), who subdues a skinhead who breaks into her home looking to verify a rumor that Hitler survived the war.

As gratifying as it is to watch a Nazi get Tased, the abuse of Aryans is one of the movie's few high points. Perhaps inadvertently, writer/director Ben Parker teases something more sinister than we ultimately get.

That's because Burial is weirdly cagey about that's going on. It doesn't take a rocket historian to figure out who/what is in the crate Brana and her comrades are laboriously hauling back to Russia (it's also  never really explained why flying it back through airspace they control isn't an option). However, only Brana and one or two others are aware of the truth.

It almost feels like Parker and company had originally set out to make a horror movie — not that Hitler isn't already one of history's greatest monsters —  but ended up toning down those elements for a more generic war drama, albeit one with some supernatural elements.

Case in point: the references to "werewolves." These are not, as one Soviet rookie assumes, actual lycanthropes, but rather the belated attempt by the Nazis to encourage homegrown guerrilla resistance to U.S. and Soviet forces, even as the war was all  but lost. The ones Brana and company run into just happen to use smoking moss grenades to cause the soldiers to hallucinate actual monsters.

A World War II spin on Dog Soldiers? Now that would've been cool.

Instead, Brana and the rest are forced to take a stand near a Polish village as the "Werwolf" squad, led by an SS doctor (Kristjan Üksküla), tries to seize the corpse in a last-ditch propaganda exercise. Aiding the Soviets is Lukasz (former Draco Malfoy Tom Felton), a Volksdeutscher deserter who's been laying low in the area.

As it is, the modern-day parallels between reality and disinformation still hit the mark, but Parker too easily falls back on the threat of sexual violence to establish the villainy of certain characters (Ilyasov, played by Dan Renton Skinner) and the badassery of others, as Brana proves herself more than capable of fighting back.

Parker knows his way around combat scenes, and the atmospheric violence and gore only reinforces the suspicion that something more sinister was planned. Burial isn't exactly dead on arrival, but fails to rise to expectations.

Burial is in theaters and streaming on demand.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar