'Buried' (dir: Rodrigo Cortes, 2010), Cert: 15
Ryan Reynolds; a Hollywood hunk, a strapping poster boy, a man trapped in a box for 95 minutes? Well that’s how he’s spending his time in Rodrigo Cortes’ latest picture. Reynolds has really stepped out of his comfort zone in the last two years and it seems that ‘Buried’ might just be the craziest film he’s ever starred in. He introduced the film at the London Frightfest by saying “I hope you like this film just as much as I hated making it!” so even he has realised that this project is just unheard of for an actor of his stature. So, has the clean cut star really pulled this off?
Paul Conroy (Reynolds) is a United States truck driver stationed in Iraq. After he and his team are caught in a violent attack, he is knocked unconscious. When Paul wakes, he is soon to realise that he has been buried alive in a tiny wooden coffin with only a Zippo lighter and a mobile phone that’s rapidly losing battery and signal. Now Paul must try to connect with the outside world and fight for his survival. Every move that he makes effects his outcome; he needs the lighter to see but it’s burning up valuable oxygen, he needs the phone to communicate with his abductors but he’s desperate to speak with his loved ones. Paul has just 95 minutes to escape his death trap, or he’ll be left to rot in his tomb.
Notably, the first thing about ‘Buried’ that stands out is how it’s made. During the entire film, we never leave the box Paul is buried in. He is the film. The only other acting is the voices on the end of his phone; Cortes keeps the audience so tightly wrapped up with Paul it’s suffocating. The direction of this picture is second to none; to be able to keep a film so interesting, so tense and so blood-curdling all inside one set is incredible. The opening two minutes screen just darkness with only the sounds of Paul sobbing and groaning in despair and agony. It’s incredibly hard to watch because you feel the anguish and solitude he does, when you’re sitting in a dark cinema with just a black screen, it’s almost impossible to bear. The audience feel totally emotionally engaged with the movie throughout and this is how the movie survives. If the viewer wasn’t connected to the picture, it would literally be just a man in a box which seems pretty dull, it’s the suspense and emotions that allow this picture to unfold and open new doors that many haven’t dared to go in to. The film dances on different genres; some will say it’s a Horror and others will say Thriller, personally, I agree with the latter.
On a technical level, the movie is brilliant; the lighting, the sounds and the camera techniques are flawless. Cortes is a fairly unknown director but because this is such a fine work, I’m sure his name will be popping up again very soon. However, Cortes isn’t the only one who deserves congratulations, Reynolds deserves them massively. This is one of, if not his best performance in his career. It almost seems impossible that the guy from ‘Van Wilder: Party Liaison’ (2002) could supply such a powerhouse performance that keeps the audiences’ hearts racing. Paul’s story is so gripping and disastrous that it really needed nailing in terms of acting, and Reynolds brings the goods, it’s a marvellous achievement for any actor; let only a Hugo Boss model.
‘Buried’ has a few little niggles that will make some over-critical people talk but ultimately the reason why this film is so good is because you actually care for the character, because you know this situation is believable and utterly terrifying, because this is one of most people’s worst nightmares. ‘Buried’ is an emotional punch to the gut that needs to be seen at the cinema; I think part of its atmosphere is because the audience is situated in a pitch black room; the only light is from Paul’s lighter. Watching this on DVD at home just seems less frightening because you’re surrounded by home comforts and not by strangers munching on popcorn.
Go see ‘Buried’, you will feel utterly drained afterwards but it’s so worth it. A grand film that holds its audience by the throat and fails to let go.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 – A white knuckle rollercoaster ride in the space of 6 feet. You don’t watch ‘Buried’, you survive it.
By Chris Haydon