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Set during WWI, a group of soldiers holed up in a German bunker find themselves with a supernatural presence gradually turning them against each other. The horror film hasn’t got great reviews but one thing everyone comments on is its fantastic score, by Andrew Morgan Smith. The composer says director Adrian Langley asked him to write a 1940s-type horror score and while personally I think it’s a bit more 1980s/90s, he left no stone unturned in delivering thrills and spills.

Think Christopher Young, Jerry Goldsmith, Elliot Goldenthal – this is very large orchestral music which mixes some classic elements of psychological horror (swirling strings, heavy brass and percussion stingers, unsettling orchestral effects) with more straight-up action material. It’s flat-out great, a throwback to some masters of the genre and the best example of a traditional orchestral horror score I’ve heard in years.

Andrew Morgan Smith

It opens with the enormous “Bunker Overture” which will instantly bring Young to mind, via Penderecki and all the usual influences on these scores – thunderous, bold, brassy and hugely satisfying. Later on I love “Vomitous Mass” (and what a track title, too) – the little descending three-note figures at the start are pure Goldsmith, then we move into slightly Omen-like, Stravinskyish organised chaos.

There are times when you do get a hint of Max Steiner perhaps or Franz Waxman (and John Williams’s pastiche of their styles for the darker Indiana Jones moments, too) – the creepier material of “Roots”, particularly the pizzicato strings and deep winds. The straight-up action cue “Gas Canister!” is a rollicking ride, too. That old standby the dies irae gets a couple of airings too, Smith launching from it into a march macabre that’s hugely satisfying the first time, before using it in a grand action piece “The Griever” late on.

In truth every moment of the score is full of quality and the wonderfully tight 39-minute album just doesn’t let up – but there’s one more I really want to highlight. Like many of my generation, I thought Elliot Goldenthal was a genuinely masterful film composer when I first heard his music – so complex and creative, so big and bold, and it was a tragedy that his career was effectively curtailed when he suffered serious injuries following an accident – while he still occasionally writes music, it’s nothing like that from his heyday. And as fashions in film music has changed, the chances of ever hearing anything like it again seemed very remote – so what a joy it is to hear this score’s “Swashbuckling” with its blistering trumpet triplets, dashing string runs, intricate orchestration – like a combination of parts of Aliens and Alien 3 – it’s intense and scary music but brings me out in a broad grin.

I love this score – you may have gathered. It’s full of great moments, and comes together as a whole really quite beautifully. While it’s not necessarily for the faint of heart, and melodies certainly aren’t its USP, it’s very easy to listen to while achieving its aims as a psychological horror/thriller score – and that’s not an easy trick to pull off. I’ve name-dropped a few mighty composers above and Bunker can absolutely sit alongside their music – this one is very highly recommended.

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  1. Daniel Henderson (Reply) on Wednesday 29 March, 2023 at 01:48

    I found the same bit of surprise from the soundtrack to the Dead Space Remake by Trevor Gureckis. It’s also worth listening to of others are looking for something similar.