An orchestra director's girlfriend mysteriously goes missing in the high-style, low-substance psychological thriller "Bunker." Colombian helmer Andi Baiz's ambitious follow-up to the well-received "Satanas" does decent crowd-pleasing work, supplying the requisite jolts and nervous giggles en route to a payoff that's much stronger than its wobbly setup. But the pic ultimately fails to marshal its effects into anything more than throwaway entertainment. The premise is strong enough to suggest remake potential, but otherwise "Bunker" will remain hidden for all but Hispanic auds.

An orchestra director’s girlfriend mysteriously goes missing in the high-style, low-substance psychological thriller “Bunker.” Colombian helmer Andi Baiz’s ambitious follow-up to the well-received “Satanas” does decent crowd-pleasing work, supplying the requisite jolts and nervous giggles en route to a payoff that’s much stronger than its wobbly setup. But the pic ultimately fails to marshal its effects into anything more than throwaway entertainment. The premise is strong enough to suggest remake potential, but otherwise “Bunker” will remain hidden for all but Hispanic auds.

Action is mostly set in Bogota and its environs. Shaky early scenes show conductor Adrian (Quim Gutierrez) sobbing as he watches a video made by his partner, Belen (Clara Lago), in which she informs him she’s leaving him. But Adrian isn’t too deeply affected, apparently, since he picks up bar worker Fabiana (Martina Garcia) and takes her back to his countryside villa.

A flashback shows Adrian, having been offered a plum job as an orchestra director, buying the villa from Emma (Alexandra Stewart). Emma tells Belen that her late husband, a Nazi, fitted the house with a secret, soundproofed bunker with one-way mirrors, and playfully suggests that Belen use it to spy on Adrian to see whether he’s two-timing her. But Belen accidentally gets locked in; much of the rest of pic is shot from her perspective, generating a fair bit of tension as previously shown scenes are presented from inside the bunker.

The buildup of suspense is strong enough to steamroller the many gaps in logic: For example, neither the house’s inhabitants nor the police figure out that there’s a whole area of the villa that’s inaccessible. But despite the occasional authentically jolting moment and some neatly planted false trails (most intriguingly, regarding the questionable role of Adrian), the pic’s thrills remain consecutive rather than cumulative, and fail to resonate.

Character work is as lightweight as the underwear Garcia wanders around in for much of her screen time, delivering lines that may be intentionally comical but come across as risible. Pic’s weakest link is Gutierrez as Adrian, soft-spoken and intense in a performance whose deliberate ambiguity seems merely unfocused. Lago, in her most challenging screen role to date, makes a fair stab at conveying the powerful emotions of being trapped and forced to watch her lover’s new sex partner, who may be her only potential savior.

Big romantic themes from Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky are nicely worked in, which means the original score by Federico Jusid (“The Secret in their Eyes”) inevitably pales in comparison; use of thunderclaps at appropriately dramatic moments is comically B-movie-ish. The original Spanish title is more evocative than the English one, translating as “The Hidden Face.”

Bunker

Spain-Colombia

Production

A Hispano Foxfilm (in Spain) release of a 20th Century Fox presentation of a Dynamo, Bunker, Cactus Flower, Avalon production in association with Fox Intl. Prods. (International sales: Elle Driver, Paris.) Produced by Andres Calderon, Cristian Conti. Executive producers, Rodrigo Guerrero, Stefan Schmitz, Maria Zamora. Directed by Andi Baiz. Screenplay, Baiz, Hatem Khraiche Ruiz-Zorrilla.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Josep M. Civit; editor, Roberto Otero; music, Federico Jusid; art director, Diana Trujillo; sound (Dolby Digital), Cesar Salazar. Reviewed at Cines Princesa, Madrid, Sept. 28, 2011. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Quim Gutierrez, Martina Garcia, Clara Lago, Alexandra Stewart.

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