"Buried" (***-110 minutes)

Tuesday September 21, 2010

As the credits were rolling, I sat there transfixed-immediately probing my brain as to how I was going to approach the review of this film after I had just spent an hour and 40 minutes watching Ryan Reynolds ("The Proposal", but is best known as the actor who dumped pop singer Alanis Morissett to marry Scarlet Johannson) alive in a coffin. My initial conceit was that this was a near miss-a 2 1/2 star flick. However, this film will not go away from my brain cells, and the more I think about it, the more there is to admire about it. Director Rodrigo Cortés, proficient in short films, has ingeniously made, along with cinematographer Eduard Grau ("A Single Man"), his first full-length feature that grabs and won't let go.

Paul Conroy, an independent trucker in Iraq, wakes up in that coffin, along with, among other things, a pen, lighter, flashlight, and a cell phone. After the initial shock of where he is, he gets a series of phone calls and discovers that he has been kidnapped and buried for a ransom. Over the course of 110 minutes (which helps explain the life of that cell phone battery that seems to last forever-until we realize that the movie plays in real time), he desperately tries to contact outsiders to try to help him escape his tomb.

Cortés' ingenious use of light (occasionally throwing the screen into darkness), sound, and a nice haunting soundtrack by Victor Reyes, makes it even more suspenseful, claustrophobic, & creepy. In addition, Reynolds pulls it all off with an intense believable solo acting turn (only voice-overs are supplied by other actors) that is sure to finally get him noticed in a big way.

Although "Buried" is not an easy film to recommend, and it does lose its way a couple of times during the middle reels, you won't be able to look away from this exercise in terror that delivers up until the very end.

The film started platforming across the U.S. last Friday, including D.C., and is due to open in Baltimore next month.

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) in a bit of a fix

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