HomeFilmArrow Video FrightFest 2022: ‘Burial’ review

Arrow Video FrightFest 2022: ‘Burial’ review

On Christmas Day in the early 90s, Anna Marshall (Harriet Walter) is home alone with her dog when an intruder breaks in hunting for evidence from World War II. Not realising who he is messing with, the intruder is soon stopped in his tracks and Anna tells him the story behind the items he’s looking for. Flashing back to 1945, she reveals the story of how she led a band of Soviet soldiers to find and deliver Hitler’s corpse to Stalin as proof of his death.

‘Burial’ is from British film-maker Ben Parker, the screenwriter behind ‘Girl on the Third Floor’ and ‘The Chamber’, the latter he directed. On paper, ‘Burial’ sounds like an intriguing thriller that takes a very well-documented moment in history and expands on the story for viewers that may be unaware of the events following Hitler’s death. Basing its premise on actual events, with elements of fiction of course, ‘Burial’ starts strong as we’re introduced to Anna, an older woman who appears to be about to become a victim to a home intruder. This turns out not to be the case as Anna was once an intelligence officer who led a group of Soviet soldiers on their mission to locate Hitler’s body and deliver it to Stalin.

Those opening moments are gripping with Harriet Walter giving a stunning performance, which is without a doubt the highlight of the film. We don’t spend long with Anna before the story jumps back to 1945 and we see Anna, who was known as Brana Vasilyeva at the time, struggling to control the band of men that she’s tasked with leading. There is a surface level exploration of the power dynamics between Brana and the men in her group, but it’s never really fully fleshed out.

Credit: 101 Films

What ensues is plenty of scenes of fighting as German partisans try to thwart their mission and take Hitler’s body for themselves to ensure that the truth about his death is never widely known. That unfortunately throws the film into a rather repetitive cycle where the story takes a supporting role to the action. This is fine at first, and some of the fight sequences are intense, but it doesn’t allow the characters to grow. Anna promises a compelling story at the beginning of the film but what we get is one that is under-developed and doesn’t put its focus where it should.

The cast is largely fine. Charlotte Vega does a solid job leading the film with Barry Ward as able support. Tom Felton is under-used in a small role that doesn’t allow him to showcase the range he’s developed since his Harry Potter days. As I mentioned earlier, Walter is easily the film’s strongest asset and it’s a real shame we didn’t get to spend more time in her company.

‘Burial’ is an intriguing idea but Parker doesn’t manage to enable it to take flight. This is a story that should be an easy sell to those who love their history but it treads an uneven path between thriller and action, falling short in the process. There are highlights during the 95 minute run-time but the film doesn’t come together in a way that’s satisfying and fulfilling and based on Parker’s other work, I had expected more.

Cast: Harriet Walter, Charlotte Vega, Tom Felton, Barry Ward, Dan Renton Skinner Director: Ben Parker Writer: Ben Parker Certificate: 15 Duration: 95 mins Released by: 101 Films Release date: 12th September (early EST on selected platforms), 26th September (Digital)

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Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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