Writer Chris Sparling may have penned an interesting idea but director Rodrigo Cortés has turned it into a spectacle not to be missed. On paper the idea of ‘Buried’ is a basic one. A U.S. contractor working in Iraq is attacked and wakes up to find himself buried alive in a coffin. With the air running out it's a race against time to find help and escape. The idea is simplistic but Cortés has created a forceful and seat-shifting cinematic experience.
Ryan Reynolds plays Paul, who wakes subsequent to the attack to discover himself alone, buried alive, somewhere in Iraq with nothing more than a pencil, phone, torch and lighter to keep him company. I was half expecting some ingenious method of escape to be born from this small collection of items, for our hero to be some specially trained agent who manages to free himself beyond all odds. But Paul is simply a contracted truck driver, just a man.
Reynolds is surprisingly impressive and appealing in this role which ultimately requires the gaining of a lot of sympathy from the audience and an ongoing support to will the guy to get out of his situation.
With every little movement magnified in the horrifying tomb even what would seem like an undemanding task of simply turning around in the coffin becomes an intense event. Within the first quarter of an hour I found myself squirming in my seat as I starting feeling like I was trapped in this box with Reynolds (I'm sure a lavish dream for many of our female readers). I even found myself breathing a little unsurely as I’m sure I’d become so absorbed by the film I was beginning to reflect Paul’s own breathing and oxygen dilemma.
‘Buried’ reminded me in many ways of Neil Marshall’s ‘The Descent’, a film that also attempted to get into it’s audiences heads with elements of restriction and claustrophobia. Its Hitchcockian opening credit sequence possibly gives the wrong impression of the film but looks and works great nevertheless. Cortés excellent conviction of the movie and the array of varied shots and sequences are handled expertly. There’s very little you would think you could do shot-wise in a movie like this but Cortés’ imagination brings an extra dimension to the whole event.
A wonderfully tense thriller which amazingly never leaves it's coffin sized surroundings. To engage an audience for 90 minutes in real-time and in such a restricted space with what seems like very little going-on is a difficult task indeed. And just what they spent $3 million on I don't know!?