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You can call me old fashioned, but I am a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan. His movies pushed the envelope for film making and he managed to put the everyman in unusual and suspenseful situations. He once said that is far more frightening to let the audience know what was about to happen instead of giving them the cheap jump scare. A lot of Hitchcock’s conventions still remain true at the core of almost every suspense film created. And yet, many modern day thrillers fall flat, mainly due to lack of story and character development. Instead of leaving you guessing what might happen next, they try and wow you with ridiculous stunts or excessive CG. It’s been a while since I felt that familiar mood and tone so common in a Hitchcock film; that is, until I rented Buried.
Buried is the story of Paul Conroy (Ryan Renolds), an American truck driver in Iraq who wakes up bound, gagged, and buried alive. Armed with only a zippo, pocket knife, and a mysterious Blackberry, Paul must piece together how he got where he is and more importantly, how he might be able to escape his fate. After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, Buried received a very limited release in October of last year. It was one of those films I was hoping to see, but sadly it never hit my market. I found this to be unfortunate, because there were plenty of trashy movies that I didn’t want to see that were everywhere in my market. So I was excited to see it come to DVD this quickly.
Buried is a unique film, there is only one actor (on screen, anyway) and limited camera angles. The entire first three minutes of the film are in pitch black, as you hear Reynolds awake in his deadly tomb; it is unnerving, to say the least. The camera gives us tight, darkened shots that both create tension and a claustrophic sense of dread. I will admit that I was skeptical at Reynolds’ ability to pull something like this off. It’s not his usual wise-cracking Van Wilder approach to roles. But Reynolds plays the everyman with great duress, and convinced me enough to connect with his desperate situation. I was glued to his performance all the way to the last shot, in an ending that, despite being somewhat predictable, was incredibly intense and powerful.
The movie is not without it’s flaws, as there are some scenes that Director Rodrigo Cortés could have left on the cutting room floor. For example, halfway through the film a black mamba snake slithers out of Reynolds’ pants. After a brief ,yet tense encounter, the snake slithers away out through a small hole in the coffin. Ok, where did the snake come from? Was he left in the coffin with Reynolds, or did he sneak in through the hole? And how the heck could he sneak in through a hole? They are buried seven feet below ground! It was cool, but c’mon man! There were other times that Paul doesn’t try things that I might have tried to get out, and that left me wondering as well.
These situations aside, I quite enjoyed Buried and found myself deeply involved in Paul Conroy’s situation and his quest to escape. There were a ton of unexpected plot twists that kept me guessing, and at times made me hate the outside world. It was suspenseful in a classic Hitchcock way, and I admired the films attempt to tell a story in this manner. (Heck even the beginning title sequence looks and sounds like a Hitchcock film). A bunch of my Facebook friends didn’t like the film. When asked about it they said it was boring, only one guy the whole time. If you need more in your films than good acting and suspenseful story telling, then Buried is not for you. But that’s ok, there are entire sections at Blockbuster with lots of CG effects and Micheal Bay explosions for you.
Rating = 4 Buckets-o-popcorn