|release date||September 24 2010|
|starring||Ryan Reynolds, Robert Paterson, José Luis García-Pérez, Stephen Tobolowsky, Samantha Mathis, Warner Loughlin, Erik Palladino|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
An entire movie about a man buried alive in a coffin doesn’t exactly sound like a first-class ticket to tension. As director Rodrigo Cortes quipped to the audience before a recent Sundance Screening of Buried: “This is the movie about a man in a coffin…just a man in a coffin. And yet, you are here.” And Cortes wasn’t lying. Although there are voice actors in the movie, Ryan Reynolds is the only person who appears onscreen, a man buried alive somewhere in Iraq, and the audience is forced to spend 90 queasy minutes trapped in the coffin along with him. The premise doesn’t exactly sound like a homerun, but with someone as talented as Reynolds in the central role, the whole idea begins to sound courageous and daring, like something Hitchcock might have tried. I was curious to see if Cortes and Reynolds could pull it off.
Buried begins as Reynolds slowly awakens, bound and gagged and lying in a wooden coffin. After cutting his wrist bindings on a sharp nail, he searches the coffin with his Zippo lighter and discovers a cell phone. Reynolds can’t read the Arabic phone display, but he attempts to call for help using the only phone numbers he can remember–911, 411, and his wife’s cell phone. (Does anybody memorize phone numbers anymore? If a terrorist put a gun to my head and made me recite phone numbers, I’d end up taking one in the eye within minutes.)
Reynolds is a civilian supply truck driver working in Iraq. Leaving a message on the voicemail of his employer, he explains that his truck convoy was attacked by Iraqis. Most of the other drivers were shot and killed. Reynolds was knocked unconscious and woke up in the coffin. He doesn’t know where he is. He doesn’t know how long before he suffocates. He is terrified, a fear state that Cortes captures with creative lighting and excellent camera work. And the fact is, Reynolds is very good in Buried. He ratchets up the suspense with a raw, emotional performance that rivals his underappreciated awesomeness in The Amityville Horror remake.
Reynolds eventually uses the cell phone to contact his Iraqi abductor, who demands $5 million for his release. Increasingly frustrated, Reynolds attempts to reach state department contacts who might be able to assist him with obtaining the ransom money. Using a pencil to write down phone numbers on the inside of the coffin lid, he continues to cast his net in the water, desperately trying to find someone, anyone, who can find him and rescue him. It’s a real-life nightmare painted with glaring close-ups and searing panic.
Cortes said that he used 7 different coffins during the filming of Buried, each with different dimensions, and each used to obtain a specific shot, or heighten a specific mood. He also found a way to get Reynolds buried with a Zippo lighter, two glo-sticks, and a flashlight (with both clear and red lens covers), a narrative liberty that allowed him to vary up the lighting to a surprising degree. Details like this, along with Reynolds’ powerful one-man-show performance, are what make this experimental, single-setting flick so insanely watchable.