March 17, 2011

Rabid Rewind: Buried

starring Ryan Reynolds
directed by Rodrigo Cortes
Lionsgate (2010)

What are the chances of being able to sit through a film that shows a man in a box for ninety minutes and nothing more? Prior to seeing this film, I would have told you there was no way in hell I'd sit through something so flagrantly foppish a display of film-making. Well, turns out I did--and I didn't have a boring time either.

Ryan Reynolds plays a truck driver, working in Iraq for a contractor, who wakes up in a coffin with nothing more than a lighter and his cellphone. The last thing he remembers is coming under enemy fire and seeing other drivers shot and killed in the firefight. So, he's buried alive and has little more than half a charge on his phone's battery. Time to panic. And that's the pull of the movie--trying to suck you into the experience and feel as isolated and helpless as him. It works to a better degree than if the director had opted to show a single scene outside the coffin. I'm pretty sure that if the cameras had been permitted to go anywhere outside that cramped space, the entire illusion of him being trapped and the feelings that go along with it would all have been lost.

The movie relies on a couple of things heavily. For one, Ryan Reynolds basically has to carry this entire movie on his back. Through the entire ordeal, all you see is either pitch black or small pockets of light that show his face. My television is crap for showing scenes that are in any kind of darkness, so I had to rely on the voice acting in the movie to carry me through quite a few scenes. This actually let me get up to cook supper and leave the movie running--didn't miss a whole lot beyond a few shots of Reynolds' panicked mug. The other thing the movie relies on is the artificial conspiracy theory floating around outside the box. Who put him there? What do they want? How are his employers and the government involved? Is anyone actually trying to rescue him?

The interplay between Reynolds and whichever actor is speaking to him on the phone comes off quite well, and a couple of the voices are pretty distinct. When he speaks to his employer later in the movie, try to tell me you don't know exactly who that is and are picturing him sitting in an office somewhere during that scene.

For a movie that is as claustrophobic as the setting in which it takes place, it works fairly well. It's not a movie I'll be rushing to watch a second time, though. It's more of a movie experience that a viewer just wants to be able to say they've seen. It's a small movie and can be thankful of Reynolds' performance and star power for giving it as much publicity as it did last fall.


  1. Unlike many people, I *really* enjoyed this film. It made me feel extremely claustrophobic, anxious, and panicked. I can see why most viewers wouldn't want to feel that way. I know plenty of people of the mindset that "I'm seeing movies to be entertained/feel good." This movie probably isn't for them.

    For me though, someone who loves horror, this movie is fantastic. It makes *you* feel trapped, especially if you watch it in a dark room on a big enough screen. You're in that box.

    Loved it.

  2. I know what you mean about the claustrophobic stuff, as there was more than one moment where I felt like I just needed to stand up or something to feel less restricted.

  3. Yes! I found myself taking deep breaths throughout the film, as if I was running out of oxygen too.