Buried Directed by: Rodrigo Cortes Cast: Ryan Reynolds Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: R Release Date: September 24, 2010
PLOT: A contract truck-driver (Reynolds) in Iraq man wakes up after an ambush to find that he has been buried underground in a wooden coffin.
WHO'S IT FOR? Buried is absolutely not for even the adventurous claustrophobics of the world. It's for moviegoers who like original, thrilling experiences. So that should be everyone, (of age), right?
EXPECTATIONS: It seemed like a gimmick. Ryan Reynolds in a box, talking on a cell phone? But at the same time, I find that even being cramped between masses of people on the subway is an uncomfortable experience. The film's trailer made Buried look like it would play up on the fear of being stuck in close spaces, but nothing else.
Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy: Van Wilder is dead. Reynolds offers an astounding performance that volleys between all expressions of the human emotional system. The script gives Reynolds a type of road map for where the story is going, but the audience’s ability to keep up with the waving speed of the course of events comes strictly from Reynolds. Score: 8
TALKING: There are about twenty voices off-screen, and all but one of them stay as strictly voices. But by the end of the movie, they have taken on a truly human form. The imagination of the audience is not just used to fill in the gaps of terror in the story, but also to what the people look and act like that Conroy is communicating with. Score: 7
SIGHTS: For long periods of time, the on-screen action of the movie can be stagnant. Conroy is either on his back, side, or stomach, and he's mostly using his phone. Wonderfully, the cinematography completely opposes this stagnancy, without violating the audience’s own sense of claustrophobia. Every angle in the filmmaker's handbook is utilized, with spins selectively used to heighten the madness of a certain situation, and at times indicate hallucination. The easiest visual tactic for claustrophobia, the close-up, is only used in select moments, such as in the beginning. Score: 8
SOUNDS: Who gets first billing in the opening credits, after the title? The sound mixer. And what a warranted achievement that is. The audience’s imagery of the coffin is brought to fruition not just with visuals but with perfect soundwork, which at time becomes the only sense of tangible terror that the audience can rely on. The score does a decent job of not abusing it's ability to cue the audience, but in a couple of instances it feels too obviously, and thus slightly hokey. After the film cuts to black, a song called “In the Lap of the Mountain” plays, as performed by Garrett Willis and the Breath-No-Breathers. Co-writer of the song? Director Rodrigo Cortes. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: This is difficult to choose. The peak of Buried's terror is probably at the very, very end. Try to hold your breath.
ENDING: Some will walk away disappointed ... and it's wonderful. Morrow McLaughlin, I'm looking at you.
QUESTIONS: Is a Blackberry battery that fickle? And who is gonna foot that cell phone bill?
REWATCHABILITY: The horror of this movie is not something you want to experience for a second time soon after the first round. Buried needs to be shaken off before you can venture back into it. The thrills of the movie will likely be best first time around, especially since you'll never be able to forget the ending.
What's more disturbing to an audience over serial killers and the paranormal? A really bad day, especially the ones that make us feel like damning bad luck is entirely inescapable. Buried is a gripping piece of low-budget work that expands its weapons against the audience past the idea of claustrophobia. The film understands that a feeling more terrifying than trying to face a scary situation is actually a sense of complete helplessness. On top of that, the selfishness of human nature can be worse as being stuck in a coffin with no air.
Buried is a victory for mental horror against the often-times brainless horror that rely wholly on visuals. It is also an achievement of filmmaking’s top job positions – it has great writing, clever direction, and an impressive performance that all work at the same level. A “gimmick” like Buried could easily fall apart should any of these elements falter. Ninety-minutes after the experience is over, with our minds still stuck in the box, this is certainly not the case.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10