Buried is a tough film to review. It doesn’t seem fair to judge it on the same plane as other movies. The film is about a man named Paul Conroy who gets buried alive in a coffin. The entire film, from beginning to end, takes place inside the coffin with Paul.
Now you see why it is so difficult to review. To be honest, the only way I would have really hated this movie is if they had left the box, whether it was to show a flashback, or show what’s happening on the surface. To its credit, Buried never does this. All 90 minutes of this movie are spent in the cramped, claustrophobic space.
When you look at it that way, Buried is an incredible achievement on many levels, including screenwriting, direction, and acting. The film effectively keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire duration, even though when you think about it, it really is just watching a guy talk on a phone for an hour and a half.
Unlike 127 Hours, another recent “trapped” film, Buried is more focused on the plot, rather than the psychological aspect of such a predicament. It is a thriller, taut with suspense. It keeps you guessing all the way through. Who put Paul there? Who is lying? What is going on in the outside world? It is obviously influenced by Hitchcock’s thrillers, and while it never reaches the heights of his classics, it is a noble effort, which should be applauded for its originality and daringness.
Ryan Reynolds turns in a fine performance. Not earth shattering in any way, but he does a very nice job considering the restrictions put on him. His call home to his mother is especially tender. This sad moment was when Reynolds really shined his brightest.
Rodrigo Cortes, the director, finds new and creative ways to film the box all the way through the movie, whether it is panning from Conroy’s feet to his head, or slowly zooming away, showing a black abyss on either side of the coffin.
I’ve heard many complaints from friends about the technical faults in the film; such as the lighter Conroy uses should have sucked up all his oxygen quickly. These quibbles are impossible to avoid with “trapped” films, and whether they are true or not, the movie succeeded in convincing me to suspend my belief, which is all that matters to me.
My biggest problem with Buried was the ending. I won’t spoil anything, but I feel it was a particularly weak finale, that inspired more of a “huh?” response, than the “whoa….” It was looking for.
All in all, Buried serves as an interesting experiment in filmmaking that succeeds on most levels, but disappoints in the last five minutes.