Buried


Directed by: Rodrigo Cortes
Written by:Chris Sparling
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
Released: October 7, 2010
Grade: A-

We live in a time when major movie studios are as conservative as ever.  They’re sticking to sequels, remakes and anything else which is easy to market.  It’s not that I dislike big Hollywood fare.  My problem is that when I tick off my scorecard, there’s always one box that remains blank – originality.

That’s not the case here.  Whether you like it or not, Buried is a film that will stick in your memory.  I couldn’t wait to start talking to people about it.  I’m hoping many of my friends get to see it because we’ll have some fun discussions after.

So what’s so special about the movie?  Well, it’s set entirely within a coffin.  You heard me right.  There are no flashbacks or dream sequences.  For 95 minutes, you will see nothing but the happenings within this wooden box buried under the ground.

The guy in the coffin is Paul Conroy (Reynolds), a contract truck driver working in Iraq.  The last thing he can remember is his team being ambushed by a group of insurgents.  He quickly realises the gravity of the situation.  The air supply will only last a few more hours and he’s got to find a way out.  It’s not a hopeless situation however.  There are a few objects in the box which he may be able to use.  They include a torch, a lighter, a knife and a mobile phone.

This premise will get you thinking.  How would you react in a similar situation?  Could you maintain your composure?  What would you do to try to escape the coffin?  The key element here is the mobile phone.  You could call someone for help but how can you tell them where you are?  Maybe someone could track the phone using GPS but how easy will it be to pinpoint a precise location given it is Iraq?

We soon learn that there’s a reason why Paul has been left the mobile phone.  He gets a call from his kidnappers.  They promise to let him go but only if he pays a $5m ransom.  Now what does he do?  Should he spend his time trying to find someone who can pay the ransom for him?  Will they really let him go if it is paid?  Or should he stick to his original focus of finding a way out.  The clock is ticking…

I don’t think I’ve ever raised so many questions in a single review but again, that’s the fun of this film.  It will keep your attention right until the very end.  I throw in one caveat however.  There’s no way that anyone could last more than two hours in an air-tight coffin.  That’s the consensus I’ve reached after talking to a few people (who gave me some strange looks when I first asked the question).

If you can get past that nagging plot hole, you’re going to enjoy this impressive feature from Spanish director Rodrigo Cortes.  There are only so many camera angles you can use in a coffin and yet Cortes finds a way to keep things suspenseful.  The lack of lighting and the enhanced sounds also add to the tension.  It may leave some audience members feeling just as claustrophobic as Paul Conroy – the film’s one and only character.

Buried is only getting a limited release in Australia but I hope that astute filmgoers make time to check it out.  It’ll be worth it.