The Extraordinarily Claustrophobic Terror of "Buried"
In a day and age when movie goers have become so jaded and desensitized due to the over-saturation of visual stimulation a retreat to the an absolute barebones minimalistic filmmaking is one hell of a risk to take. Luckily for director Rodrigo Cortés his gut instinct to make the “impossible” film has paid off in spades. Armed with nothing but a pine box, a brilliant screenplay by Chris Sparling and the captivating screen presence of Ryan Reynolds, Cortés successfully created a feature-length film that keeps audiences riveted and breathless, even if they are squirming in their seats the entire time. The combination of an extremely claustrophobic setting and an emotionally charged Oscar-worthy screenplay worthy is potent and haunting, lingering with you long after you leave the theater. Indeed, it could be said to be a life-changing film, forcing you to take a close look at one man’s desperate fight for survival in the most extreme of circumstances. I certainly had no idea what I was in for when I took my place in the premiere screening at the 2010 Fantastic Fest film festival in Austin, Texas. The concept of BURIED simply seemed too extreme to be pulled off successfully. However, I can safely say that this is one of the most brilliant pieces of filmmaking I’ve ever seen.
BURIED is the story of Paul Conroy, a contract truck driver working in Iraq. When his convoy is attacked by insurgents, Paul wakes up to find himself six feet underground in a pine box coffin with only a flask, a lighter, a dying cell phone and a couple of broken glow sticks. Injured and terrified, Paul is quickly running out of air, but his will to live is frantically strong. Desperately he attempts to track someone down to help him on the cell phone before the battery completely dies. However, what he finds in his last hour and half is a bleak realization of how insignificant human life can be to the corporations running wars such as the one still raging on in Iraq.
“You don’t have to be claustrophobic to be afraid of being in a box. This is a physical experience,” commented director Rodrigo Cortés on the red carpet at the Fantastic Fest BURIED premiere, “and you feel everything, you experience everything. This is not a movie to be seen but to be experienced. Actually I believe people will leave the theater four pounds lighter.”
No matter how claustrophobic you might be, no matter how closely you are involved or have been effected by the Iraq War, you need to see this movie. Not only will Ryan Reynold’s flawless performance grab your soul by the throat and bring you to angry tears, but every sentence of the BURIED script causes you to take a step back and deeply examine what your own actions might be in such a situation, what your emotional reactions would be towards the limited outside contact your futile efforts you are able to establish. This is a brutally honest film, unapologetic for either its subconscious or conscious statements about price of a human life and the global inhumanity that results in times of war. This is literally a lightless tunnel in which there is no redemption. There is no lacquered Hollywood ending here, no final “save the day” moment. What is most terrifying of all, however, is the thought that this very scenario is happening to people all over the world every single day. BURIED, while it may be in and of itself a work of fiction, might as well be a documentary and a tribute to those who have been sacrificed to the corporate war machine and never discovered again.
When asked what it was about the script that made him commit to the project, Ryan Reynolds replied, “It was the most terrifying piece of writing I think I’ve ever read. It felt so real, everything that Chris Sparling had put on the paper was something I felt like I could relate to and connect with.”
And connect you will with this film and its intense emotional rollercoaster of a message. There are very few movies I urge people to see, but this is one that is an absolute must. Challenge yourself to step out of your jaded comfort zone and allow yourself to sink six feet underground for a cinematic experience that will definitely change your perspective on filmmaking and the world in general.