Sunday, 15 May 2011


There are few situations I can imagine that are more terrifying than waking up to find yourself buried in a coffin. This situation has been used in some great films (e.g. Dutch version of The Vanishing) to potent effect. But can you make an entire film out of it? More specifically in this case, can you make a film in which every second takes place in the confines of a wooden coffin? I would not have believed it possible, but it apparently can be done, because that is what Buried does.

Ryan Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, an American truck driver working in Iraq who is captured and put in a coffin with a cellphone so he can communicate with his captors and those who might pay the ransom. The incredible terror, anguish and frustration of this predicament is conveyed well by Reynolds and aided by the fact that the entire film focuses on him. And unless you suffer from claustrophobia (in which case you should not get anywhere near Buried), there is an appropriate level of claustrophobic tension generated throughout the film.

But something in Buried didn’t work for me. Perhaps it was the phone conversations, which occasionally didn’t feel real. Perhaps it was the kidnappers, whose actions (as conveyed over the phone) seemed to lack logic. Perhaps it was the feeling that it was a “gimmick” film (though it was certainly fascinating to watch how the filmmaker, Rodrigo Cortes, pulled it off).

Buried is the kind of film that should leave you numb for a while after watching, especially if it has an appropriate ending, which Buried has (for the most part). But I did not feel numb, which means the film did not engage with my mind at the required level. *** for effort. My mug is up but I won’t watch it again.

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