Movie Review: Russians and Nazis fight over Hitler’s body in “Burial”

“Burial” is a clunky but somewhat engrossing WWII “quest” thriller about Adolf Hitler’s body.

British B-movie writer-director Ben Parker (“The Chamber”) conjures up a fanciful version of what happened to that corpse when the Russians got their hands on it. It’s a story that’s part myth, part combat film and part lecture to the Nazis and Russian apologists of today.

It’s not all that, but it’s not terrible.

An old Englishwoman (Harriet Walter of “Sense & Sensibility”) confronts a young goon (David Alexander) who’s just broken into her house. His haircut, imitation concentration camp numbers and Nazi tattoos give him away.

He came there looking for something, desperate for “the real story” of what happened to that movement’s tiny-mustached icon. After tasering and drugging him, the old woman — a Jewish Russian expat — gives it to him straight. Because “I’m afraid people like you can’t simply be TOLD the truth.”

In the last days of the war, young Brana (Charlotte Vega, Netflix’s “Warrior Nun”) was an intel officer assigned to a detail that was to transport a coffin-shaped box from ravaged Berlin to Moscow. Stalin wanted “proof” Hitler was dead, and Russians, she tells us at one point, “like to look in the eyes of our enemy.”

With a captain, a colonel and five enlisted men they set out by truck for a Polish railhead. As there are German “werewolves” (die-hards) in the woods who don’t want the Soviets or the world to have “proof,” this trip will be a bloody one.

Keeping everybody on task would be hard, even if Brane wasn’t shorter and slighter than everybody else. They must bury the box each night, guard it and make sure no one can find it if they’re attacked.

But with the war all but over, the Russian soldiers want a little celebratory booze and some “spoils of war,” which Brana knows means rape victims. Only the grizzled veteran named Tor (Barry Ward of TV’s “White Lines” and “Anne Boleyn”) seems to “get” Brana’s sense of purpose.

Those tracking them have access to herbal hallucinogens as weapons, which means any given attack could convince those being attacked that there are real werewolves on the prowl. And the Polish locals, victims of years of German and Soviet depredations, aren’t going to be of any help.

Save for one. He’s played by Tom Felton.

Parker’s Estonian-shot film flicks a little Russian, Polish and German into the dialogue for “authenticity” (tee hee) and kind of runs around in circles, hinting at supernaturalism but never committing to it.

The combat is brutal, personal and features villains dropping on the first shot and “heroes” who can take a knife in the back or two and bullet or three — B-movie style.

The obstacles on this quest are underwhelming, and the locations have no hint of the larger war being fought around them or that was fought over mere days before.

Kristjan Üksküla makes a generically vile fanatical and sadistic Nazi officer, Dan Renton Skinner a murderously oafish Russian one.

The old woman storyeller framing device is a reach for “meaning” in a formulaic WWII “mission” movie, and I can’t say it adds all that much to it.

But as B-movies about Hitler’s corpse and who might have a use for it — then, and now — go, “Burial” manages to be watchable, even when it’s making your eyes roll.

Rating: unrated, graphic violence, sexual assault

Cast: Charlotte Vega, Barry Ward, Dan Renton Skinner, Kristjan Üksküla, Harriet Walter and Tom Felton.

Credits: Scripted and directed by Ben Parker. An IFC Midnight release.

Running time: 1:34

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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