EDITORIALS

Rodrigo Cortés Delivers a Box Full of Suspense with 'Buried'

by
September 20, 2010

Buried

The frustration of bullshit bureaucracy has slowly taken over quality customer service and logical assistance from the corporations and organizations that provide our most basic services. It's hard to believe, but in Rodrigo Cortés' Buried the familiar  long-winded customer service call is a matter of life or death for Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), a truck driver for military supplies in Iraq who has woken up to find himself buried alive with only a cell phone, a Zippo lighter, glowsticks, a shitty flashlight and all odds against him. As I found myself inside the wooden coffin from a theater in downtown Chicago, I was on the edge of my seat until the very end. Read on!

The fact that an entire 90-minute feature stays in one confined and isolated location for its entire duration (no flashbacks, no cut-aways, no escape) is an achievement in itself. But when that same film is as captivating, suspenseful and genuinely terrifying as Buried, that's a triumph in cinema. For years this Black Listed script had been considered impossible to film, but with 17 days of shooting, seven different wooden coffins and some psychological wear and tear on Reynolds himself, Rodrigo Cortés has crafted a thrilling, intense, freight train of suspense that just happens to be stuck several feet underground.

From a dying cell phone battery, to some of the most insufferable customer service and government employees, the hits just keep on coming as Conroy unravels the mystery behind his underground state. A greedy terrorist has taken several American contractors hostage in order to negotiate a ransom from the government, and he's not letting them go anytime soon. As Conroy tries every contact imaginable from a provided cell phone (it's not his own and the language on the device is Arabic) frantically trying to find someone who can find him and get him out. You've never been so exasperated and enraged by the sound of a voicemail prompt. Even the voices that you heard on the other end of the phone often insight more anger than relief.

Fortunately, the darkness of the enclosed space comes and goes like his sources of light as Reynolds does a great job of sparingly lightening up the suspense with a couple hilarious exclamations of frustration in between absolute panic. It's these moments more than his outright fear that make the film so distressing simply because he's an everyman character that could be anyone of our friends or relatives But just like Conroy's space, there's little breathing room for tenderness or laughs between the heart-pounding anticipation as a unit specifically assigned to locate kidnapped Americans in Iraq is on the hunt for Conroy and his kidnappers. Making the suspense even more unbearable is an amazing Hitchcockian score (which also plays over an awesome opening credit sequence) that makes you feel like you're watching a big blockbuster action movie unfold.

Clearly Cortés' direction in this film goes beyond telling Reynolds to be scared and setting up the camera and walking away as Reynolds moves inside the coffin because more often than not, the camera is moving into every possible crevasse of the enclosed space. Even more credit goes to Reynolds as he seems to work himself into every possible corner of his grave. While that doesn't seem like a difficult task inside a wooden box, you'll have to see the flick to understand what I'm saying. The collective audience even seems to be pushing around inside the box along with Reynolds as groans and the sound of shifting bodies could be heard around the theater. Essentially, you'll have to try very hard to sit still as Buried unfolds.

The film is a relentless experience of anxiety and tension that will exhaust your mind. Sitting in a dark theater with a full crowd, you can hear a pin drop at the most pivotal moments of the film as every single person is waiting for hope on the other end of the cell phone or mere feet above the piles of Earth on top of the coffin. Gasps for air from Conroy are coupled with gasps of shock and awe from the audience. You'd be doing yourself a great disservice if you missed out on this unique and innovative story that may make you even more scared of being buried alive and hungrier than ever for the next project from Rodrigo Cortés.

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  • Matthew
    I'm in complete aw for this movie and the reviews it's been receiving. It's funny cause when I think of a list of can't wait to see, this movie ends up at the bottom not because I doubt it's potential but because the idea itself doesn't seem like it's capable of being pulled off. Sounds like that is dispelled, can't wait!
  • beavis
    honestly, i heard the same kind of stuff (applied to horror) with paranormal a activity - and it was a bust for me. also read avatar reviews on here that promised an experience that was amazing - and it wasn't.......i found avatar VERY average at best. i'm going to rent "buried". i have no problem saying (while it's an interesting concept) that i don't think i'll find the cell phone biplay to be as riveting as ethan makes it out to be. ethan, i (and everyone else in the world) knows the frustration of being "exasperated and enraged by the sound of a voicemail prompt"..........amoung other things like being put on hold - WITHOUT having to see this movie. i'm not being negative - i'll watch buried in hopes of it being a good watch............. i just don't want to sit in a theatre and watch a guy laying in a wooden box making cell phone calls...............i can watch it at home.
  • Xerxex
    I'm there, ever since I read the script I was hooked. Rarley will I see films like Buried in theaters, but something about this story is awesome, hopefully it will be the surprise hit of the year. But I won't be surprised if I go to the theaters and the room is empty (same happened to me with The Crazies, both times I saw it).
  • LINKFX
    @ Xerxex, Crazies was poorly reviewed an didnt really have a name cast...while ill see anything with timothy olyphant in it, most people have no idea who he is. Buired will be different, it will achieve the same if not bigger success than Paranormal Activity for one reason, Ryan Reynolds trapped in a box for a hour and a half. His star power is blowing up right now, he's on the cover of every magazine and he's extremely charming with the old men want to be him and women want to be with him factor. This movie will blow up.
  • norm
    I can't imagine being stuck in a movie with Ryan freaking Reynolds, let alone a coffin.
  • Xerxex
    That's sad LINKFX Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchelle are two very talented actors...I believe Buried will be different, as well.
  • richard
    i agree with #5. Ryan Reynolds SUCKS. don't care what anyone says.
  • Xerxex
    Richard well you got someone replying...see Reynolds is actually a good actor, he has shined in nearly all of his roles. He has great comedic timing see Van Wilder and Just Friends, he can be the badass action guy see Blade Trinity (He was the only good thing in that debacle). and he can deliver with dramatic roles see Smoking Aces, he made that last thirty minutes of the film come to life. This role will prove the haters wrong.
  • beavis
    i liked RR in "waiting" and "van wilder"........however, LinkFX - i don't think he has "starpower". i mean, lindsey lohan is on a bunch of magazines and she isn't even a B level actress. reynolds does have some acting chops - he just needs a role that is memorable to really get him noticed by the mainstream movie audiences. xerxex - i didn't think it was possible for anyone to use ANYTHING from "blade trinity" as a positive..........and here you've proved me wrong!
  • Xerxex
    I know beavis...but dammit he was the only good thing it that horrible movie. I'm here to prove everyone wrong! MWAHAAHAAHAA!!!!
  • beavis
    yea, man - you did the impossible with BT. and you're right about smoking aces.......while that was more of an ensemble cast - he was good in that and especially the last 30 minutes.
  • Xerxex
    I mean Clint Mansell's "Dead Reckoning" and Ryan Reynolds killing two men...gold.
  • beavis
    well, i really liked RR and ray liotta as FBI partners in smoking aces (although jeremy piven was outrageously good in SA too!) "!!............... of course, the selling point of that movie for me was the over-the-top action. man, when you watch the expression of frustration on RR face at the end - i think we can all watch that scene and say "yea, i've been that frustrated before, too"!!

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