BURIED 3 stars
Lionsgate, Rated R
Horror can come in small packages, even a coffin, as the no frills, literally underground thriller Buried impressively confirms. Think interior decorating and the many flourishes you can add to even a one-room apartment if you let your imagination go to wild enough, as Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés does in this interment for ransom thriller. Hopefully the genius machinations of screenwriter Chris Sparling’s stylishly deranged hostage script won’t go to any terrorist heads anytime soon.
Ryan Reynolds takes suffering for your art to unimaginable new depths as Paul Conroy, a war zone truck driver in Iraq who signed on to deliver rebuilding supplies because he was in serious need of the cash. Paul isn’t unaware of the dangers he’s facing, but is swayed by assurances from the company his safety would not be on the line.
So when Paul wakes up after being knocked out temporarily from a head wound and finds himself buried alive in a wooden coffin in complete darkness with only a cigarette lighter and somebody else’s Arabic cell phone, he’s confident his company, or at least the U.S. government, will make his rescue a top priority. Think again, Paul.
With little air and less patience, Paul calls any and everyone he can think of: his kidnappers, family and friends (via long-distance calls), government cheapskates (who aren’t keen on the exorbitant insurgent demands) and company suits (fretting over distancing themselves from any liability). All these dead ends, mixed with some connections to answering machines, push-button computerized voice commands, and plenty of “Please hold” elevator music (they have to find some way to eke out 94 minutes), Paul makes do with figuring out how to survive as long as possible.
Reynolds excels at reaching into the theater and grabbing viewer minds while subjecting the audience to vicarious frazzled nerves, as we face this nightmarish ordeal with him every step of the way, whether we care to or not.
Never has sheer dread ruled the screen and wreaked quiet havoc utilizing such minimalism, which gives a radically spine-tingling, not to mention awfully unpleasant, new meaning to the notion of being embedded in a war zone.