wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)

quick review:

Ryan Renolds’ in Buried is buried in a box. He’s trapped. There’s very little oxygen, and very little space. The light flickers through the film, and it makes you feel uneasy. Having this premise, somewhere in the middle I was convinced at some point the film would get boring, but it keeps you hooked mostly because Reynolds’ makes you feel his frustration down to last minute.

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Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Cast: Ryan Renolds
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
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What would you do if you got stuck in a box? And no, I am not trying to revive the melo-dramatic scene from Guzaarish, where Hrithik Roshan tries to explain to someone the metaphorical sense of being helpless. This is about literally being stuck in a box where you just about fit. It’s dark, cold, dirty and you have no idea how you ended up there. Ryan Reynolds in Buried spends 95 mins in a box – buried alive and trying desperately to figure out a way to get out.

Be warned, this is not a film meant for the claustrophobic. I started watching the movie with my fan switched off and with a light sweatshirt. When I was done, I was so tense, my room felt like an oven even with the fan on. My bed felt too small and I had to compulsively walk around to remind myself that there was space around me. And I’m not even claustrophobic.

Ryan Renolds as Paul Conroy plays a truck driver based in Iraq who wakes up buried in a coffin. How he ends up in this coffin, he’s unaware. All he remembers is being hit in the head, and waking up in pitch darkness in a box just as big as his dimensions. The first 5 mins of the film are dark. You can’t see anything; you can only hear heavy breathing and uncontrollable fidgeting.

More than once, I fought the urge to forward the film to a point where I could see something. Even after Reynolds brings some light in with a zippo lighter, it’s flickering and troubled. You’re so frustrated by now you just feel like pulling him out of the screen and bringing him into your room! We learn the box has been equipped with a phone so that the kidnappers can make contact with him and demand a ransom.

This disturbing introduction is followed by frantic calls to his loved ones, the FBI, 911 in America – all of whom make him hold, take their own time to comprehend his situation. The more frustrated you get, the more Buried pulls your strings. Just when you are hopeful he might find his way out, something goes wrong. The sense of fear has been interpreted superbly by director Rodrigo Cortes and writer Chris Sparling. How much can one work around the idea of a man stuck in a box, anyway?

You never once feel the sense of being stuck, ironically. Buried allows you to keep hoping whatever Conroy is planning will work out. You go through the drill of being spooked out, but even as he speaks with various people on the phone, kicks, screams and cries, something always keeps you hopeful that he will get out – it’s a gripping series of events. Not much innovation could be brought into the photography and yet the lighting is minimalistic but effective. The extreme close-ups of half an eye and a stubble-beard give the exact sense of the lack of space in the frame.

Ryan Reynolds plays his part as a helpless person caught in a messy political situation. Why him, we ask? How is he relevant and what will anybody gain by burying an insignificant truck driver? It’s these questions that manage to fuel your frustration as a viewer. What I love the most about Buried is that no back story is offered – it’s plain and simple. Paul Conroy needs to escape, and how he tries to, makes for the film.

The features on the Blu-ray are rather brief but informative. We learn the film used 7 coffins to shoot, where coffins had one side opened. Director Rodrigo Cortes mentions the filming was difficult but was shot in 17 days. There are no deleted scenes, or a commentary on the filming process but the interview with the director pretty much gives you insight into the making.

As an afterthought, Buried could have been crisper. It does tend to get repetitive in some bits, what with melodramatic reactions on Renolds’ part. But for sheer courage to make a film like this is 17 days and to be able to spook a viewer to an extent that fast-forwarding becomes an option, Buried is a must-watch. However, please remember to catch your breath every now and then.

This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.

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Yay! Thumbs Up, by Harish Krishnan : It keeps ypu in the edge of your seat.

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: There is blood and some spooky scene
  • Language: Lots of expletives and frustrated screams of abuses
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: How a man is buried alive and what he does to get out
  • General Look and Feel: Dirty, flickering on/off light and clasutrophic

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Buried - Cast, crew, links

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Comments (2)

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Interesting review because you have not compared it 127 hours. 'Wrecked' was in the similar line as well.

Thanks! I'm yet to see 'Wrecked', but 127 Hours is quite different from this one. Buried is really just about Renold's pursuit to escape. There is no metaphor, and no layer to it :) It's a gripping watch!

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