Saturday, July 23, 2011


Ryan Reynolds in a coffin.  That's what Buried has to offer.  If that doesn't sound like your particular brand of horror, you might as well keep going.  If, however, that basic premise intrigues you, you may be pleasantly surprised.  Be warned, though.  If you're looking for Ryan Reynolds to be anywhere but a coffin in this movie, you will be sorely disappointed.

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up with his mouth gagged and his hands bound in a coffin.  Holy fucking shit!  What now?  Well, the first step is to remove the gag so he can make incoherent noises; seriously, there is no dialogue for the first ten minutes, just panicked noises.  He manages to find his lighter, and his situation still sucks.
Crotch cam confirms: still in a damn coffin.
Eventually, Paul calms down enough to free his hands and take stock of his situation.  He has a lighter, some glow sticks, a cell phone (with the Arabic language setting), a flask with some booze, and some of his anti-anxiety pills (better help yourself to those).  Oh, yeah...and he's in a coffin that is underground.  SHIT!  Paul pieces together what happened to him --- his civilian truck convoy was attacked in Iraq and he was apparently taken hostage --- and spends quality time on the phone with the State Department, his kidnapper, and his wife's answering machine, but it's obvious that finding and rescuing Paul is going to, sweet Jeebus, he's going to die, isn't he?!?
Reynolds, getting the initial Green Lantern reviews from his agent.

I am not claustrophobic, but I'm also not someone who goes out of his way to trap himself in confined spaces.  That said, I have to admit that I love this premise for a horror movie.  The simplest premises are always the most terrifying to me; I am willing to chance encountering a hockey-masked killer or a dream demon with razor fingers, but a situation that could feasibly happen to me?  Okay, you have my attention.  Why do I consider being kidnapped and buried alive feasible?  I don't have to explain myself to the likes of you.

As far as the acting goes, this movie has Ryan Reynolds, and that's it.  You are probably used to his typical smart-ass style, because that's basically his range, but he tries to expand his skill set with this role.  Here, he's a smart-ass that has had the ever-living, ever-loving shit terrified out of him.  To be fair, there is one moment where Reynolds acts like a smart-ass (and it is funny), but that's all; he focuses his attention on acting frightened.  And boy, does he!  I've never videotaped the reactions of someone that I have buried alive, but I imagine that Reynolds pulled off a fairly realistic portrayal.  Sure, I would have sobbed and used more profanity than him, but we're different people and I respect that.  I would like this to be a sign of things to come for Reynolds, because I like the guy, but his "I'm sarcastic --- and look at these abs!" routine is starting to get stale.

"In brightest day, in darkest night..."

One of the more amazing things about Buried is that, despite taking place entirely in a coffin, director Rodrigo Cortes managed to make a visually stimulating film. He varied the light sources and camera angles enough to keep the cinematography from being boring, and that's no minor accomplishment with these limitations.  Seriously, this is one dude in a box for an hour and a half; keeping that visually fresh is a show of major talent.  Cortes also did a very good job with the tone of the film.  It begins with Reynolds waking up trapped, and the situation only gets more desperate as time goes on.  It looks like this film is giving Cortes, a little-known Spanish director, some buzz around Hollywood, because his next film, Red Lights, stars Robert De Niro; I am definitely looking forward to that one.

As much as I admire the technique and the style used to make this movie, I'm not sure how much I actually like it.  Will I watch it again?  I'm glad I saw it, but probably not.  Here's the thing: the pieces --- the premise, the acting, the tone, the beginning, the ending --- all worked for me, but I didn't actually enjoy this film.  It's not that this is a snuff film, or that it's too predictable, or anything like that.  It was simply missing that little extra "oomph" to make it awesome.  You might disagree, especially if you are claustrophobic.  But, since I am not, I will respectfully give this a "good, but not quite great" rating of

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