"No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight's very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone."
Whenever I see a bomb shelter movie, I always think about this "Twilight Zone" episode. It is the one where there is limited room in a bomb shelter as a Civil Defense announcement is made. The neighbors turn violent. Likewise in this film, it is the examination of people's character. Plot continuity is unimportant to the film. As a side note, notice the importance of plastic sheeting and duct tape during a terrorist attack.
The action starts from the opening clip. No time for character build-up. The reason why there is no character build-up is that the people represent different aspects of society/human psyche. Mickey, (Michael Biehn) the super of a NYC apartment building has made a shelter in the basement...for himself. He ends up with a group of tenets which he resents and they likewise despise his cigar smoking rough ways. While he is hard-nosed, he looks out for everyone's safety. He won't win any congeniality contests.
The tenets get on each others nerves. Some question Mickey's sanity. Things turn weird as there are outsiders of unknown origin. The film contains some realistic and horrific scenes of killing, torture, dismemberment, menstruation blood, and rape. It examines our core psyche and how it relates to our society: The desire for power and control among men, the competition of age and youth in women for suitors, and the many uses of duct tape. The bunker is a microcosm of society that starts out on equal footing and evolves into a "haves" vs. "have nots". There is a struggle for their world's finite resources...which on a larger scale has happened outside the basement.
F-bomb, sex, explicit sex talk, no nudity. As a metaphor 5 stars. As a sci-fi snuff film 2 stars.