Saturday, October 9, 2010

BURIED (2010)

Written by Chris Sparling

Directed by Rodrigo Cortes

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. October 5, 2010  1:45PM

The bleak and disturbing film,"Buried" opens in complete darkness, then we hear a male's voice groaning. Next, we hear a lighter being ignited, then we see Paul Conroy, played by Ryan Reynolds, who is bound and gagged inside of a coffin. He is an American truck driver working in Iraq and this is just the beginning of his harrowing ordeal.

Paul manages to get himself loose, then he, understandably, completely freaks out. After he calms down, he tries to recall how he got in this box and figure out how he's going to get himself out. He takes inventory and discovers that he has in pockets, the previously mentioned lighter, a knife, a small flask of water, anti-anxiety pills and a cell phone that doesn't belong to him.

Paul first tries calling his wife and then his employers but he just gets an answering machine. He calls the FBI next, which he is able to let an operator know his situation before the call is disconnected. The cell phone rings and it is man informing Paul that he has been kidnapped and he wants five million dollars in order for him to be released alive. Paul, of course, doesn't have that kind of money so the man tells him to have the U.S. government pay it. . .or else.

He immediately calls back the FBI where he is transferred to a special agency operative who tells Paul that they are doing all they can to locate him but the United States doesn't pay for hostages. The agent gets as much information as possible from Paul, then he will get back to him.

The kidnapper calls back and lowers the amount to just one million but demands that Paul make a ransom video using the phone. He then has Paul watch a video of a fellow employee held hostage to show him that they mean business. Paul is desperate because he realizes he is running out of time. He knows he will soon run out of air, the cell phone battery is almost out of power, the coffin is slowly filling up with sand because of the bombing going on above him and he has to fight off an unwelcome slithery visitor.

This is not fun stuff and to call this film, tense, is an understatement. When "Buried" comes to it's inevitable conclusion, I just wondered what the hell was the point of all of this? If this was supposed to be a traditional horror film, I wouldn't have had so much of a problem but this is apparently a serious drama. I didn't find any of this entertaining and the idea of sitting for ninety minutes watching this poor man struggle to stay alive was distressing and disgusting actually. I can't imagine any real kidnappers really going through all this trouble for ransom money. This film felt like a slightly more sophisticated version of torture porn.

I can be honest and say that Mr. Cortes has actually made a well-crafted and suspenseful film, which I guess is partially the point and I suppose there is a political statement being made as well, but it's not very clear. "Buried" is in real time and he cleverly uses only the lighter and the cell phone to illuminate the film which helps puts the audience in the coffin with Paul Conroy.

Mr. Reynolds is the only one on the screen and he takes us through a gamut of emotions we would all go through if we were in a similar plight; fear, anger, frustration, desperation and finally, resolve to his situation and he does so exceptionally well. But none of this is enough to say you should rush out and see "Buried". I'm sure there is a message buried under all of this but I have no idea of what it is.