PLOT: A civilian contractor (Ryan Reynolds) working in Iraq, is abducted by insurgents, and buried alive in a coffin, with only a lighter, a Swiss Army knife, and a cell phone to keep him company.
REVIEW: Rodrigo Cortés' BURIED was one of the first films to get a pickup by a major studio (Lionsgate) at Sundance this year. Watching the film, it's easy to see why, as not only does it have a huge star in the lead in the guise of Ryan Reynolds, but it also has an intriguing, and terrifying concept.
Many have described BURIED as a feature-length version of the coffin sequence from KILL BILL VOL. 2. This is a pretty dead-on comparison, although I also found BURIED felt like an old episode of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, stretched out to feature length.
Now, the question is- can a movie where a guy lays in a coffin for ninety minutes be exciting? The answer is both yes and no. For the most part, BURIED is a taut and exciting thriller. I can't imagine a worse hell than being buried alive, and director Cortés exploits our fear through his use of lighting (kudos to the cinematographer for making it look like the whole film was lit by a lighter, and a cell phone, but never letting it get dark enough so that we can't make out what's happening on-screen), and sound.
As this is pretty much a one man show, the film would have died a pretty quick death if the lead had not been cast right, and luckily, Reynolds is great in the role. This is really a big step-up for him acting-wise, as he's recently taken to appearing in lame rom-coms, and this bodes well for the upcoming GREEN LANTERN adaptation. Within the ninety minute running time, Reynolds runs the whole gamut of emotions, with him being near-hysterical as the film opens, to calm and accepting toward the end. His cell phone calls to his bitchy neighbour back home are great, and there's also a scene where he leaves a tearful message for his wife and son that's very well acted.
However, BURIED is not without its problems. For one thing, it goes on too long. The last half hour of the film starts to feel like a bit of an endurance test, and they could easily shave ten minutes or so out of the film. There's also a really unnecessary subplot involving a snake which should be cut. The concept is scary enough that they didn't need to include a snake to give the film another thrill.
Still, despite any flaws, BURIED is a tight, nailbiter of a thriller, and well worth a watch (see it on the big screen- I doubt the claustrophobia would work as well if watching it at home).