Sunday, 7 November 2010

Buried review

In short: Phonebooth in a coffin with a blackberry. It works against its limitations: a quirky thriller to catch.

Claustrophobics may want to look away now. Or don’t if you fancy confronting your ultimate worse case scenario.

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes in pitch-black darkness, bound and buried alive in a wooden coffin. No, he’d not been on a stag weekend in Swansea, he’s a civilian truck driver working in Iraq whose convoy gets hit by insurgents in this gripping, stripped-to-the-waist thriller.

Unlike the similarly location specific Phone Booth (2002) the filmmakers stay pure on this: the coffin is the only scene, no cutaways and here is a story constructed around the acting of one man. Luckily Ryan Reynolds, whose career is has been building steadily since his Van Wilder days, holds his own extremely well, the dire peril of the situation written all over his face in an unsurprisingly physical role. He and director Rodrigo Cort├ęs have created a thriller that builds in intrigue and tension despite its limitations.

Of course it wouldn’t work if Paul didn’t have a mobile phone and a lighter, both items are explained in the plot, which revolves around the various conversations he is able to have with the outside world, as each second he runs lower on oxygen. It keeps you guessing right to the end and manages to stay fresh with clever camera angles and scenarios - they even manage to have an action sequence in the coffin.

Despite some obvious moves before the finale, for edge-of-your-seat tension and the kind of storytelling bravado Alfred Hitchcock would have enjoyed, Buried is worth seeking. Just don’t expect panoramas.

***(three stars)
Originally Published for KM Group

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