It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good contained thriller and I know there are a lot out there but they all incorporate a large space. Even movies like The Decent take place in confined areas but the cave is still pretty big in area. Then, a short little Sundance film arose to the calling and its title was simply… Buried. When I saw previews for this I knew that the whole movie would be in a box and people should know that it only takes place in that box, but I also expected the movie to exceed in three major film components: sound, aesthetics and performance. Needless to say, it exceeds both of these things. The plot is simple, a truck driver is captured by ‘terrorists’ and is buried in a coffin unless he comes up with $5 million (?) in three or so hours. Maybe less. It’s a very intense piece and Reynolds still manages to be Reynolds during some breakdown moments.
Sound makes for great atmosphere and considering you need good atmosphere to keep you on your heels, Buried’s use of sound is fantastic. Everything from the buzzing of the phone, to the clicking of the flashlight, down to the creeks in the wood… I have to say that I felt like I was in that box with him. The sound doesn’t just create atmosphere, there are times where the soundtrack isn’t present but feels like it should be, so the sound provides a realistic soundtrack to grip the audience. The creaking, the dirt falling, the scraping all contributes to make the audience feel paranoid that something is going to happen. There were times where I was just waiting for the whole coffin to collapse in on itself.
This sort of encompasses both the lighting and the cinematography, which was both phenomenal but the cinematography really nailed the tension and the visual. When you think about having a movie take place entirely in a box, what sorts of camera angles do you expect? You’d think there are only so many they can choose from but you are wrong. I don’t want to reveal anything just yet but some angles were brilliant and some pay homage to the late Alfred Hitchcock (I’ll get to that later). Also, considering that Reynolds only uses a lighter, a flashlight, a cell phone light and a glow stick… the lighting was very strong. It did a great job isolating certain parts of his body to reveal what’s going on. I’d have to say, when the lights went out I began picking at my thumb.
Ryan Reynolds is really digging into different genres and I really respect him for doing this. He made a name for himself in the horror genre with Amityville Horror and now he tackled a pretty tough role playing Paul Conroy in Buried. It’s just him and a slew of assorted voices over the phone. Going into this, I wanted the performance to be amazing because it needs to be that way to keep the audience engaged in the character and to give him depth. Reynolds nailed it (no pun intended). I loved the character of Paul, I was with him in every little thought that crept into his mind and I felt terrible that he was in that situation. He gave the character depth and emotion and even in the darkest of times, you can totally see Reynolds being Reynolds.
There is one thing about this film that stuck out to me and I’m not sure if this is intentional or if I am just seeing things. This film seems to be a direct tribute to the work of Alfred Hitchcock. I noticed this right when I saw the poster for buried and how it bares a close resemblance to that of Vertigo. The main title sequence is done in animation; much like the way Psycho’s title sequence was produced. Also, certain camera angles scream Hitchcock but I won’t name the scenes. Even the fact that this is a contained thriller is something Hitchcock would do since he is the master. If this wasn’t a Hitchcock tribute, than what a coincidence the film is.
The only problem I had with it was that it didn’t make me feel cramped or struggling for air, which is good I guess. Also, I don’t want to reveal any spoilers but this may be one: to those who saw it, how did Dan Brenner not know that what was never found? I never caught onto that but it’s something that is still lingering in my head. Speaking of which, a good movie makes the audience member remember it and even though this isn’t horror… it certainly is a frightening situation that I can’t shake. I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie makes you claustrophobic.