Directed by: Rodrigo Cortés.
Stars: Ryan Reynolds.
Where to begin? I suppose we should start with a bit of a sensory exercise. Imagine if you will waking up, afraid, alone and confused. The last thing you remember is being shot at by Iraqi Terrorists and seeing your friends killed; and now everything is just black. Surly you’re dead and this is some sort of after life, but out of instinct you sit up, only to be blocked by a low ceiling – and so you feel around for something, anything. It’s your last grasp at life and sanity, and then you feel it… a lighter. You panic beyond all recognition, it won’t spark, it won’t light…and then suddenly, there’s light emanating from the small metal device in your hand. There’s a second of reprieve, and then you realize where you are and what’s happened: You’re buried alive.
Feeling claustrophobic yet? Well, perhaps not, my description doesn’t do the plot of the movie justice. The thing that makes any movie good or great is the ability to make the viewer feel for the character/s within the film – achieving empathy is never easy, but if it’s gained, well, you’ve made a good film. Buried is no exception. Given that you spend an hour and a half with one character in one tightly enclosed space, you don’t really have much of a choice but to get involved on some emotional level. Now, that’s not to say that just because you’re investing an entire movie into one character you have to be empathetic… the direction and acting and atmosphere make you connect emotionally to poor Paul (Reynolds).
And yes, you read that right – the entire movie takes place in a coffin barely big enough for one man. How is that possible? Honestly, before seeing that movie, I wouldn’t have been able to picture it. I would have thought there needed to have flashes to the authorities trying to find him; his family worrying at home or at a head quarter’s somewhere; Hell, even a flashback to the events leading up to his entombment. But, alas there is nothing. The back story is told through Paul’s frantic attempts to contact somebody via a cellphone that was buried with him. All rescue images are portrayed the same way, with somebody on the other end updating him on the situation at hand. It’s quite effective.
A movie like this can’t have any lull’s in it, if it does, the viewer’s going to clock out, it’s inevitable. However, Buried dances with the Devil on a few occasions with this technique. In fact the first three minutes are nothing but a black screen with breathing slowly being introduced; I almost thought something wasn’t right with the film. The movie does this a few times throughout, but I have to admit it builds the atmosphere pretty well.
One of the biggest points of the movie is the claustrophobia factor. The filmmakers do a decent job of portraying that during the film, however it doesn’t really sink in until the very end of just how confined Paul is. It’ effective, but it’s no Decent (I could barely sit through the majority of that film – it made me so uncomfortable).
All in all, the movie works somehow. I don’t know entirely how a scrip in the vicinity of 90 pages was written for a movie that never leaves the confines of a 2×7 box, but it was, and it was done well. Reynold’s is great and really makes the illusion of him being trapped seem real. His emotional highs and lows are realistic, and his actions come off as genuine.
Overall, 4 outta 5