If I have anything that resembles a known phobia, it is claustrophobia, so the prospect of watching someone trapped in a box for an hour and a half had me a bit uncomfortable. But that’s exactly the predicament that Ryan Reynolds, star in the new film Buried, finds himself in. From frame number one, director Rodrigo Cortes, making his English language debut, throws us into the darkness and despair that would normally accompany someone who is trapped in a coffin and buried alive.
The premise itself is enough to make many shudder. Reynolds’ Paul Conroy is a truck driver for CRT, a transport company delivering supplies in Iraq. He awakens in a coffin, not knowing how he got there. Conroy is not a soldier, but may be a political pawn in a sick and twisted game. Immediately, of course, survival is of paramount concern.
The main question for Conroy is why was he kidnapped? Who buried the man in a pine box under dirt and sand and for what purpose? Money appears to be a motivating factor, but the reality may be much different. The balance of the film finds Conroy struggling to find answers as he uses his captors gifted foreign cell phone, a lighter, flask of alcohol, and a few other gadgets as his sole tools for survival, MacGuyver-style.
Conroy goes through various stages of despair, almost comfort, sadness, and uses his will to survive as motivation. His emotions run the gamut but there are too many plot holes for you to really care too much. So many questions that the film and its protagonist ask are left unanswered. Its fine if you are one who likes to try to piece together a plot through what you have seen, but ultimately no reasonably accurate conclusions can be drawn based on the information we (and Conroy) have been given. This is one of the drawbacks that make this excursion more befitting of a short film, than a long form 100-minute big screen spectacle.
Buried is an opportunity for Reynolds to shine as he holds the camera for the vast duration of the movie. This movie is more of an exercise than a heavy plot driven film. Despite its technical merits and strong acting, there isn’t enough to really grasp onto beyond what you get to experience on screen. Yes, it is more of an “experience” than some films, as you are trapped in darkness along with Conroy, but the end result means its something you likely won’t want to sit through more than once.