Originally Reviewed – 10/9/2010
One quick caveat before starting my review: I am not a fan of scary movies. Don?t startle me, don?t attempt the cheap jump out from behind the sink trick, don?t even tickle me. The more scare free my world happens to be, the better. As a result, certain movies like Paranormal Activities and anything in the Japanese horror genre are right out. That being said, I do like a good suspense movie, a film that drags you along and builds apprehension until you?re literally crawling on the back of your seat. Buried, a tight little indie suspense movie about a truck driver who wakes up from an insurgent attack to find himself buried alive in a coffin, largely achieves that goal.
Starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by first timer, Rodrigo Cortes, Buried does its absolute best to be bigger than its budget and thanks to some fine cinematography and direction, does a fine job of reaching that height. Centering on the aforementioned truck driver, played by Ryan Reynolds, Buried spends its entire 94 minutes in the very coffin Reynolds wakes up in. No shots of the outside world, no flashbacks to better times, no goofy dream sequences, just Reynolds, armed with only a knife, a cell phone and a Zippo. The result is one of the most claustrophobic ambiances I?ve ever seen on film. Naturally the effect starts to wear off towards the back half of the film but the script does a good job of keeping the audience engaged with some smart twists and turns.
Being the only on screen actor in the film, a lot is riding on Ryan Reynolds in Buried and he handles the job in what is easily his best performance to date. Immediately relatable as the trapped truck driver just trying to figure out what happened, Reynolds goes through the various stages of frustration, fear and despondence with skill I honestly didn?t think he had in him. While there are moments where his performance falls off, they are easily dismissible and never throw the viewer out of the story. Before Buried, I was very anti-Reynolds but now, thanks to this performance, my respect for him has been raised a few notches. Just steer clear of another Van Wilder, Mr. Reynolds. Pleaaase?
First time director Rodrigo Cortes also deserves some top marks for keeping the film coasting along without despite the limited theatrical resources of a four by seven coffin. The film is also framed nicely with distinct acts and plot points that give the affair a much needed structure. That being said, without the exceptional cinematography, everything would have been for naught. Flickering lights, harsh cell phones and the occasional glow stick all serve to highlight Reynolds striking features with texture and relative clarity. Just as much a part of the story telling as the actual script, Buried is a wonderfully shot film.
Tense, unnerving and quietly entertaining, Buried is a fine example of what supreme talent can do with little resources and an almost Hitchcockian idea. While not quite as tense as it could have been, especially in the last fifteen minutes, the overall effect delivers the tension in droves. Couple that with a career performance by Ryan Reynolds and an ending that polarized the audience I saw it with, Buried is well worth seeing in theaters with a good crowd. As a matter of fact, I imagine the tight, tense feeling trying to be portrayed is better served on a large screen than in a home theater, so do you best to see this on the big screen. You may never think of tight spaces in quite the same way ever again.
Score – 80%