Buried – Movie Review

Sitting in the darkened cinema with others at the preview screening I did think to myself “How engaging is this possibly going to be?  A guy in a box! That’s not exciting! Even if it is Ryan Reynolds.”

The concept is this: our main character Paul Conroy wakes up buried in a coffin somewhere in the Afghan desert. He has with him: his zippo lighter, someone else’s mobile phone with patchy reception and a dwindling battery light, his bottle of pills for anxiety, glowlights and a rickety old torch.

It is a very dark flick, with the only lighting coming from the mobile phone, flickering zippo flame and glowlights. Paul uses the phone to try and speak to a variety of people, most of them are in the States, to try and get them to help him. Slowly the picture falls into place – he was part of a truck convoy who got attacked by some insurgents and for some reason he was left alive, but buried. He has the chance to speak to his captors a few times, as they phone him setting the terms of his confinement.

They want money, of course, or he will die. Their threats escalates until they send him a film clip that decides him that they are in fact very serious.

The movie is as long as it needs to be to keep our attention and to make everything that takes place plausible. The coffin is a bit of wood hammered together so throughout the movie we are conscious of a very steady trickle of sand into the coffin. Conroy tries his best to break out, using his back and feet and arms but to no avail. He is stuck fast inside his box prison.

As the tone of his conversations escalate with those who are trying to find him, so does his anxiety. Because of the way the film is shot, close up, personal and brooding, the audience’s anxiety climbs too.

Buried is a deeply uncomfortable film. People who suffer from intense reactions to closed spaces should be advised not to attend this movie. Admittedly, you are sitting in a cinema, but the fact that it is as dark around you as it is in Conroy’s coffin, gives you the same chills. It is deeply atmospheric movie in which Ryan Reynolds, smeared with dirt, sweat and riveted with pain and terror, gives a performance few actors have the chops to emulate.

All credit should go to the three people who made this unexpectedly tense and emotional movie work to the extent where I had to reach for my own inhaler as I became short of breath;  Ryan Reynolds, an actor who has really shown us there is more to him than one-liners and impressive abs.  The director, Rodrigo Cortes,  who has taken a high concept script and distilled the story to such intensity I saw no one in that cinema move or breathe very deeply.  And lastly, to Chris Sparling, the writer who has revealed some impressive skills in giving us a complex character in an awful situation where he truly had no one else to rely on besides himself.

The claustrophobic atmosphere, the intensity of emotions portrayed by Mr. Reynolds as Paul Conroy and the dark intimate shots inside the coffin is deeply disorientating so it really does draw you in as a viewer.  You become Paul Conroy.  You go through each small success with him, and you hope beyond hope that things will turn out well.  Incredibly tense, this high concept, exhaustively uncomfortable movie, should be on everyone’s must-see list this late Summer/Autumn season.  It’s like nothing you have ever experienced.

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One comment

  1. love the ending….

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