Paul Conroy, a driver delivering supplies in Iraq, wakes up to find himself trapped in a coffin. After trying to adjust to his situation, he finds that a torch and a mobile phone have been left with him. He contacts his employers and the FBI with fairly unhelpful results, then his captors ring him with instructions to film himself saying some words and give them five million dollars by nine o clock or else he will die. As he wrestles with what to do, the FBI say they have a chance of finding him but time is running out………
The idea of being buried alive is a terrifying one and one that has been well employed in a variety of films from The Vanishing to City Of The Living Dead. The idea of a whole film centering around this is new though, and while it certainly has the potential to be a bore, it’s certainly not in this movie. Despite never moving outside the coffin, and with no props except a torch, a phone, a glowstick, a cask of whisky, a snake and some falling sand, Buried is an incredibly gripping film and never loses that grip for a moment. Despite it’s restrictive setting, Eduard Grau’s photography, with a camera that swoops up and around the coffin, keeps the film totally cinematic and the pace fast, while Chris Spalding’s script keeps one guessing as twists and turns keep on coming. Much of the movie actually consists of Paul on his phone, but you wouldn’t believe how much tension can be wrought from a phone buzzing showing a call is incoming. I’m not too fond of the [unavoidable I suppose] high use of mobile phones in films at the moment -to me, it’s as uncinematic as watching people typing at keyboards, but I was on the edge of my seat throughout much of the movie and the final scenes really had me biting my nails. The human side is never forgotten though, with the most moving farewells to relatives I’ve seen since United 93. However Buried wouldn’t work without a good enough leading man, and Ryan Reynolds is a revelation is the title role, convincingly going through a variety of emotions including angry, terrified, sarcastic, tearful and accepting. I genuinely believe the guy deserves an Oscar for this performance, though I doubt it’ll even be in the running. Perhaps there’s a couple of twists too many, and there’s the awkward moment where the script appears to be commenting about the situation in Iraq, but director Rodrigo Cortez has made an absolute cracker of a movie here, and I’m so pleased it got a reasonable release, considering it’s so uncompromising.