Friday, September 09, 2011

Buried, a (film) Review

I've watched the cursor blink several times now, waiting for me to somehow begin this post.  And yet, after watching Rodrigo Cortés' 2010 thriller Buried, I don't know how to begin.  A brief synopsis:
Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is an American truck driver working as a private contractor in Iraq.  After one convoy trip goes wrong, Paul wakes up to discover that he's been buried alive in a wooden coffin.  Armed with only a cell phone and a lighter, Paul begins a desperate struggle to have himself located and freed.
I wanted to watch Buried back when I first heard about it, primarily because of the risky gimmick.  See, the entire film is really one long scene.  The camera never leaves the coffin.  This gives the audience a somewhat claustrophobic effect, though certainly nowhere near as strong as Conroy's.  So when I settled in to watch Buried last night, I was expecting to be on the edge of my seat, and Rodrigo Cortés went well beyond my expectations.

Honestly I'm still struggling on how to come to grips with this film.  I classify it as a suspense/horror movie, and of the worst possible kind.  To me, scary isn't some ethereal monster lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce and devour.  It's not demons and goblins boiling young children and feeding them in pies to trolls.  No, to me, true horror is the possibility that an unsettling event could actually happen, and that's definitely the case with Buried.  (That's also the reason why I detest torture-porn movies, because some psycho could actually watch, find inspiration, and act on what they've just seen, but that's tangential.)

What makes Buried even more frightening is that I personally have friends and family that are serving our country overseas.  Some are military, but some are private contractors, working in war zones, just as Paul Conroy was.  And that's part of why this film affected me so strongly.

So how to discuss the movie without spoiling anything?  I've decided on a list of adjectives I felt throughout the film.

  • Emotional, of the heart-wrenching kind.  
  • Disturbing, of the "what the heck's wrong with humanity?" kind.  
  • Pulse-gripping, of the kind that grabs and doesn't let go.  
  • Bleak, of the "help, I'm buried alive in a coffin somewhere in the Iraqi desert and I'm suffocating" kind.
  • Infuriating, of the "surely this kind of thing doesn't really happen but it probably does" kind.
  • Dreadful, of the full-of-dread kind.
  • Suspense, of the "how is this going to end?" kind.
  • Melancholy, of the "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" kind.
Truly, this movie kept me in full attention.  As the film progresses, watching the character development has a staggering affect on the Viewer, and Reynolds performs superbly.  The acting was convincing, the lighting believable, and the sounds as I would imagine.  There was one part that was remarkably creepy, and another that was remarkably tear-jerking. The restrictions of filming solely in the coffin are smartly handled and felt by all, and I think the risk taken by Cortés paid off.

Buried is one of those movies that leaves you pondering well into the night, and then on into the next day.  My only solace is knowing that the film is fiction.  That's a comforting thought, and possibly the only one I have.  Buried is not an easy film to watch, and the feeling after finishing is truly horrifying.  This minimalist movie had a maximum affect on me, and I'd love to discuss it with someone.  It's available now on Netflix Instant Streaming for those with a stout heart.


Kailana said...

I hate when that happens... Starting the post is always the hardest for me and sometimes I start one, hate it, and erase everything and start all over again...

Anonymous said...

you did a great job with this review.

I had an acquaintance who reviewed this for our Spring 2011 zine, highly recommending, and still we've yet to get to it... which is really really strange considering Sean is a big fan of Reynold's films.--maybe it is because I am claustrophobic and the idea of this one just freaks me out!!

Sounds like a good RIP film, though.

Thanks for alert that it is on Netflix, we will have to check this one out--in a well-lit, spacious venue.


Shann said...

You make this film sound amazing but I am scared to watch it. I don't know if I can deal!

Carl V. said...

Well-written review, Logan. I can see why you had a hard time with it just from your description.

Being buried alive is one of those things that scares me much more than other horror tropes. That awful feeling of being trapped. It makes for good horror stories. I've certainly enjoyed Poe's take on it and others.

I'm with you on torture-porn and feel the same way about sexual assault in books and films. Too close to what can and does happen to some unfortunate people. Nothing entertaining about it at all.

I imagine I'll give this one a pass though it does sound fascinating. Sounds a bit too heavy, at least for the moment.

logankstewart said...

@Kailana: Aye, I've been down that road too many times. Never fun.

@L: Well-lit and spacious is recommended. I'd probably recommend on adult-eye's only, too, due to some rather gruesome images and some strong language.

@Shann: Thank you. It's not so much scary as it is extremely suspenseful, but still, it's worth the watch.

@Carl: Aye, being buried alive has always been a hidden fear of mine, too. I remember seeing some movie as a youngster about some character being buried alive and it terrified me. Now that you bring up Poe, I may have to dive into "The Premature Burial" during this challenge... ;)

David Wagner said...

Not sure I'll see that one. I have to be in the right frame of mind to be willing to be put through the wringer like that. Otherwise it can have rather profound negative effects upon me.

Great review, though. Thanks for writing it, eh!

logankstewart said...

@Dave: Aye, a right proper mood is needed, that's for sure. The film could have had a negative impact on me, and it did, too, for a short while, but then I realized that "Hey, it's fiction you dolt!" and got on with it. ;)