Monday, January 31, 2011

Catching Up On 2010 : Buried


Originally released on the festival circuit in January of 2010, Buried was given a limited and then slightly wider theatrical run in September and October of last year, before hitting home video just a couple weeks back. I finally got the chance to see it tonight and i'm happy to say that it now sits at a high ranking position on my best of 2010 list, whether we're talking horror movies or movies period. An unbearably tense 90 minute thrill ride, set entirely in a tight, dark and claustrophobic wooden coffin, Buried is in my opinion one of the best, smartest and most impressive and original thrillers in recent years. If Hitchcock were alive today, I don't think he'd argue with me on that.

Yes, you heard right; the entire 90 plus minute runtime of Buried takes place inside a coffin, sometimes lit by a faint light, sometimes not lit at all. Inside that coffin, buried under the ground, is an at the top of his acting game Ryan Reynolds, a cell phone, a flashlight, a knife, a tiny little flask of liquor and some other little odds and ends. For the entire runtime, we watch as Reynolds (playing an American truck driver kidnapped in Iraq) fights for his life to stay alive, making cell phone calls to his family, his kidnapper and to those he believes will be able to get him out of his horrifying predicament alive. By never straying away from the confines of that coffin, not even for a split second, director Rodrigo Cortes brilliantly buries us alive with Reynolds, making us feel as much of the tension, urgency, frustration and terror of a person in that situation as one can possibly feel while sitting in the comfort of their own home watching a movie.

What could've easily been a failed experiment in the wrong hands is an incredibly effective one in the hands of Cortes, a film that is never once boring or anything less than edge of your seat captivating. Cortes has brought to the screen an emotionally devastating and haunting war story, one that manages to be more effective in relaying a political message about our current clusterfuck of a war than most films have been able to, while at the same time having something to say about our current society and the shared anger of the so called 'little people' that inhabit it. Given the limitations Cortes faced with the story, I consider that a pretty damn impressive achievement. For taking such a limited premise and such a limited space within which to tell that story and managing to tell it in such an engaging and effective way, I give writer Chris Sparling, director Cortes and star Ryan Reynolds all the credit in the world.

The rewatchability factor may not be all that high, given much of the impact is taken away on a second viewing, wherein you already know what's going on and what's coming, but I honestly don't think one would want to sit through such an emotionally and mentally draining film on an all that frequent basis anyway. Though super depressing and taxing, it's a film that demands to be seen. Turn off all the lights, pop in the DVD and get Buried as soon as you possibly can.


Jesse Lee Alan Bartel said...


Anonymous said...

Johnny, just with regards to the re-watchability factor, in your opinion how important is that with regards to the great scheme of things (as it were), for instance i mean how important is it when you`re deciding whether a film is good or bad?.

Johnny said...

Honestly it's not much of a factor for me when it comes to deciding whether a movie is good or bad, it's just something I felt was worth mentioning in my review because it's something that popped into my head after watching it. If I love a movie but find myself never wanting to watch it more than once, I really don't feel that that takes away from how I feel about the overall quality of the movie. Now in terms of a movie becoming a favorite of mine, a high rewatchability factor is a must. For example, a film like Cabin Fever I can watch over and over and never tire of, which is why I consider it one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

I actually think that imbueing a film with a high re-watchability factor is the most impressive thing that any film-maker can acheive when making movies, even more impressive than oscar wins, massive box-office or rave reveiws.

Johnny said...

It's certaintly a talent all its own. Then again, a movie like Troll 2 is endlessly rewatchable and totally terrible on every level!

HorrO said...

Great review and excellent point about watching the movie a second time. I didn't think of that until reading this review. The movie turned out to be a lot better than I thought it would be. Also, very depressing. I am not sure I would watch it again for the same reasons you mentioned. It just wouldn't be as shocking, and it is certainly too depressing. I do have to say Ryan did a great job as well.