Paul Conroy (Reynolds) is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq, after an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
In the opening few minutes of the film you witness a blank screen and hear nothing more than some muffled breathing which grows into a panicked frenzy as the realisation of his situation dawns on Paul. He eventually finds a lighter to give you a glimpse into to his prison and you are instantly drawn into the tight space with him and from this moment on, you will only feel comfortable when you step out of the cinema into open space.
It’s when Paul is introduced to a previously unseen mobile phone that his story really starts to unfold, he communicates with his captor and the reasons why he is in his predicament are revealed and the race to get rescued begins.
Paul speaks to numerous other people throughout the film including 911 in a first desperate attempt to get help, his employers (in a particularly horrible moment), a man who works for a team that specialises in hostage negotiations which plays a bigger role as the film progresses and also he speaks to loved ones trying to connect with someone as his air runs out and his phone battery begins to die.
The tension this plays into the film is enough to make you suffer along with him and it’s a brilliant inclusion in the story. It’s amazing how much actually takes place in the small box, the situations that play out are well thought out and the change in mood as the film progresses is incredible and never have I felt so short of breath or so on the edge of my seat as I did watching Buried.
There are so many reasons why this movie succeeds. Firstly the acting from Reynolds is exemplary and it needs to be to help us take this horrific journey with him for 90 minutes through the torrent of emotions. As Reynolds is the only person we see throughout the film it needs a strong actor to carry this off and Reynolds deserves a lot of credit for his performance.
Secondly, The lighting for the film is so clever, provided solely from a lighter and the glare from his mobile phone it gives two separate coloured lighting to the inside of the box, it adds a horrible sense of claustrophobia and fear that helps build tension throughout.
Thirdly, Rodrigo Cortes utilizes the setting amazingly well with excellent use of the camera to assist the feel of limited space with one scene in particular standing out where the camera rotates 360 degrees from inside the box that is wonderfully inventive and never do you feel it’s not a real box buried deep underground.
Lastly, the invention and economy of the plot is well told through Paul’s conversations on the phone, and it builds further tension to the already strained situation. It only allows you to know what Paul knows right until the end of the film and it never gives you a clue where it’s heading. It’s a real triumph.
Director Rodigo Cortes has delivered a wonderful movie that successfully sets a 90 minute film in one small location with one actor. With an incredible atmosphere, pacing and fascinating story, Buried is easily one of my favourite movies of 2010.
Buried is out on 29th September.