Directed by Spanishman Rodrigo Cortés, Buried sees Paul Conroy (portrayed by American actor Ryan Reynolds, best known for The Green Lantern in 2011) buried in a coffin. He has 90 minutes to find out why he’s there and escape his fate.
I never saw this film in the cinema, which is something I hugely regret because the atmosphere would have been amazing. This film is best watched in the dark, and if you don’t have a home cinema set-up (which I don’t!), use headphones if possible. I got quite a sense of what it’s like to be claustrophobic during this film, but please don’t let this put you off, it’s part of what makes this film so powerful. For it to be as powerful as I found it to be, you have to immerse yourself in it for the full 90 minutes of it.
You may or may not be aware that this film is set entirely within the coffin, which was an excellent decision on the director’s part as you are with Paul the whole time until whatever end he meets. Right now you’re probably thinking ‘A 90 minute film set in a coffin, you must be joking!’, well I’m as serious as an undertaker at a funeral (there will be no shortage of coffin-related puns in this review!). This brings me onto why this is such a fantastic, gripping film- and it’s secret is it’s use of cinematic elements.
The cinematography in the picture is second to none; it is absolutely mind-blowingly brilliant. Director of photography Eduard Grau shows off his clear ability to use his camera in such a confined space to perfectly compliment the performance of Reynolds (which I must point out is also very good, however you could argue that it could have been done by anyone, but I suspect this decision was more down to star power…). A combination of shot like carefully composited extreme close-ups and even a 360-degree camera rotation inside the coffin shows that Grau and Cortés have used every inch of the tiny space they had available to them to make this film a masterpiece. The music is earthy, it feels natural to the scenes as it creeps in unnoticed at the right moments for dramatic/emotional effect, although the music in the opening sequence is a bit too high tempo in my opinion to feel it is part of the film.
Surprisingly, it also uses lighting very well; using the ghostly blue from the mobile phone left inside the coffin, to the green glow of the glow tubes (not sure if there is a correct term for those…), to the tungsten light of the torch and it’s convenient red filter. The attention to detail during the production of this film is outstanding.
I would also like to briefly mention the character of Dan Brenner (Robert Paterson, that’s Paterson, not Pattinson!), who is the only person Paul can rely on to get him out of the coffin. Even though he is never seen in person, his vocal performance has that perfect balance that keeps the audience unsure as to whether his intentions are actually in the favour of the main character.
I hope this review has taken the lid off of this film for you, as I know it is different from the average film you’re probably used to watching. So is it worth a watch? Definitely, this is a film that will have its place for many years to come.