Buried Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:44 am,

Buried Review Buried Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick reviews Buried

Buried isn’t a big-budget comic book film or a 3D CGI extravaganza, but it’s still one of the most thrilling films of the year. Don’t let the simple “man in a box” concept fool you – director Rodrigo Cortés (The Contestant) utilizes a number of slick storytelling devices to portray a claustrophobic – and ultimately enjoyable – experience on film.

Despite Buried‘s upcoming wide release (on October 8th), and high-profile star (Ryan Reynolds), the movie is more indie-film than suspense thriller. The scope is extremely limited, with numerous close-ups on Reynolds’ blood-spattered face or awkward, angled shots focused on a dark corner of the pine box.

Reynolds gives a memorable performance as Paul Conroy, a U.S. Contractor working in Iraq who is kidnapped and buried alive inside a coffin as a form of ransom. Reynolds manages to set aside his normal quip and charm to give a more frantic and emotional performance. It’s certainly interesting to see the actor’s typically-energetic and charming personality reduced to laying in a pine box and being forced to convey 90 minutes worth of intense storytelling through mostly facial expressions in low-light.

The storyline is paced by a partially-charged cell phone Paul discovers buried alongside him. The cell phone’s low signal and limited battery ratchet up the tension, keeping Paul grounded in the confines of the box while still working to move the plot forward. Paul reaches out to various people for help: everyone from his wife, his employers, the FBI, as well as his kidnappers.

Buried Ryan Reynolds 2 Buried Review

The kidnappers call often, each time bullying Paul with a variety of threats – coercing him to follow their instructions. Paul ultimately connects with Dan Brenner (Robert Paterson), a Special Forces agent tasked with finding kidnapped Americans in Iraq. Brenner’s primary piece of advice is to not give-in to the kidnapper’s threats – resulting in a number of tense moments where Paul is forced to balance his desperation to survive with his trust in Brenner (who is, after all, nothing more than a disembodied voice to Paul).

In general, a well-struck balance succeeds in keeping things moving – in spite of Paul’s inability to go anywhere. Cortés has done a masterful job, making all of the phone interactions authentic – as if there are real people on the other end of line, as Paul himself at one point notes, “Sitting in an air-conditioned cubicle.” The voice acting is organic – the disembodied voices react naturally to Paul’s situation, even if the reaction itself is frustrating to Paul (and highlights some people’s lack of sensibility).

There’s also a good mix of personalities on the other side of the conversations, offering a fresh set of interactions that never get stale. The juxtaposition of Paul’s life-and-death plight against the various “jobs” and responsibilities of the people on the other end of the line serve as one of the film’s greatest strengths, offering an immensely frustrating but authentic, and entertaining, experience. An interaction between Paul and a family friend, who reprimands Paul for his tone, is especially cathartic – proving that Cortés even managed to add a few glints of humor into a film fueled by the ever-present dwindling of battery power, oxygen, and Paul’s chances at escape.

Buried Reviews 2 Buried Review

The circumstances surrounding Paul’s abduction as well as the somewhat on-the-nose political discussions regarding Iraqi terrorism, American contractors, and the pitfalls of establishing democracy didn’t take too much of the spotlight away from the in-the-box-action and emotion. While it was important to touch on the context, at times it was hard to ponder the larger moral implications of the Iraq war while confined to such an intimate and intense personal struggle. By the time the credits roll, it’s clear these worldly events are the primary backdrop for Paul’s dilemma – and the carefully manufactured claustrophobia Cortés is attempting to impose on the audience.

Like any worthwhile high-concept film, Buried does a solid job of setting up the “rules” of the film. Paul is buried only a few feet below the ground, which means he gets decent, though spotty, cell-phone reception but cannot force his way out of the box. To keep the story grounded in the frantic search occurring outside of the box, the cell phone has been cloned (meaning it can’t be tracked by GPS alone), and the kidnapper’s motivation is kept simple – they want ransom money (of course, the U.S. has a policy against paying ransom for hostages). As a result, Paul’s only chance at survival rests in Brenner finding the kidnappers alive, so they can reveal Paul’s location.

Continue to the in-the-box format of Buried

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

« 1 2»

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Definitely a good suspense movie, but I will agree that some of the events feel contrived or forced. I have to say I was expecting something like Phone Booth (ick) but this was much better

    Agreed though, that endings like that leave you drained. Feels like a kick in the gut to watch somebody go through all that for that kind of payoff. Then again in retrospect, its refreshing every once in a while to have a movie that isn’t “happily ever after”, even if I would have liked to see this one end that way =(

  2. I thought this movie did exactly what it intended to do which was to show the audience a 90 minute story in a box big enough to hold one man. I knew going into this movie i would like it and i did. The only people who wouldn’t like this movie are people who like the movies where sarah and johnny are making out only to be violently murdered by some masked villain for kissing on the grave of his mother. ;). What it lacks in scenery it makes up for in intensity and where at the end i had hoped for the best it is nice to be let down. Because lets be honest who likes to see a happy ending everytime?

    • I came into this movie with no other expectations except for knowing that I was walking into one of my biggest fears. Cortes not only successfully sucked me into said fear, but delivered an experience that deepened that fear. That being said, this delivery was sheer genius. I was sucked in from beginning to end, and left stunned for a good while after finishing.

      • tasha, are u single?

        • Yes. 😉

          • Tasha, E-mail address?

  3. The people who disliked it are the one’s who can’t appreciate the sheer brilliance or even connect to the real depth of it. It’s a shame, most people are sheep, and simply can’t think far enough to even understand something like this.

    • Yeah? well normal people think it was a horrible movie considering the actor is really good.

      • It was a great movie, just the ending kicked us in the gut which is why most people didn’t like it

  4. Well I saw the movie before the reviews and tho not my favorite and most realistic movie I enjoyed… me having been stuck in trunk for an a hour before could only imagine being buried for two hours … ending sad but the most probable outcome.

  5. This movie was horrible anyone that liked it would like any movie. Advice to any one that rents it watch first 15 minutes and ffwd to last 5

  6. worst movie ever not a thriller just a waste of 2hours of my life no back story just a guy in a worst case scenario which i already predicted he was going to die which he did (spoiler alert) just like open water i think Hollywood is full of it.

    • deff 2 hours of my life i wish i could get back!! how can they even release such a terrible movie?!?

  7. I’m sorry… Ryan Renolds is absolutly beautiful, but this was the worst movie I’ve ever seen!!! The entire movie was of him, in a coffen, making phone calls!!! IT WAS AWEFUL!! There was no excitement at all, it was just annoying to watch. I feel bad writing this, but people should know so they don’t waste thier money or time to watch this movie.

  8. This was a great movie. just watched it yesterday, but what dave said about the ending i thought it was kinda sad and stupid for a ending.

    I was dissapointed with this movie… I thought it would pan out to show how he got there and what was going on outside, but there was nothing! I didn’t think it would show him in the box for the entire movie. If anything, that made it more boring. The ending wasn’t bad, but the fact that we sat through this entire movie with him in the box the entire time, just to have him die in the end? It was frustrating, to say the least.

    Thank god Ryan Renolds was in it. That was this movie’s saving grace.

  10. worst movie i’ve ever seen, horrible, depressing, left me feeling like the world had nothing good…. horrible idea for him to die at the end… definitely not a movie you can watch twice.

    • Man you have the same name as me and I felt the same way when I saw the ending

  11. I thought AT FIRST the story line was great and I also thought Ryan Reynolds was great, and funny at times, but I was terribly disappointed in the end. Anyone who defends the ending is full of crap and can’t admit that they too were disappointed. Joke’s on us apparently!! I suppose Hollywood was looking to get a rise out of the viewers…I can only imagine.

    viewers wants a happy ending. which makes it worth buying.

  13. You owe me 1h35m of my time that life just does not give me back!


  15. Fab film! Great from beginning end and well done to Ryan Reynolds for pulling it off. It’s brings a mix of drama, horror and thriller all in one film – even manages an action scene. Perhaps those always after a happy ending should stick with Disney.

    • I completely agree

  16. Thought the movie was good. If you want cgi or scenery or action packed sequences this isn’t the movie for you. Not everyone’s going to like the same movies but going as far as saying its horrible? Really? its like saying twilight has good plot and redeeming factors. Either way all i’m saying is haters gonna hate.

    • This is not a reply to simply you, but to everyone who enjoyed the movie…

      It had so much more potential. I never reply or comment on anything, but this movie left me incredibly disappointed. There was much more that could have been done even with the relatively short time it spent.

      Flashbacks, pictures, anything would’ve been helpful to build on some character development. His life? His wife? His child? Anything to help you get into the mind of Paul. But there was nothing but an incredibly anxious and distraught man, making mistakes that even the simplest of people can overcome.

      I’m simply bashing this movie because of the potential it wasted. Good start, and it honestly was a good finish. A look into the life of innocence trying to help the third world. But it’s hard when you have nothing to compare yourself to the main character.

      I feel that everyone feels that they would have done many things the same, making the main character more than anything annoying.

      If your life depended on someone, would you really yell at them? Alternatively, would they really hang up on you? The movie had a fantastic basis, but too many flaws.

      If pointless scenes were cut out, and more character developing scenes were included, it would be much more appealing to everyone, because we could relate.

      Instead, we’re placed into the view of a generically scared human being, whom the only thing we relate to is the fact of being alone underground. I’m sure we can all agree that’s scary, but watching a stranger scared is nothing we want to watch for an hour and thirty minutes.

      With character development, the ending would have been heartfelt, and ultimately tear-jerking. But the fact that you couldn’t actually get to know the actor, you couldn’t feel anything. It was empty, except for the fact that everyone thinks, “Wow. That was the end. Disappointing.”

      As I said, It had some fantastic potential… but ultimately turned out to be annoying.

      • “Instead, we’re placed into the view of a generically scared human being, whom the only thing we relate to is the fact of being alone underground.”

        Sorry, I can’t relate to being trapped alone underground.

        Cortez was trying to evoke a feeling of claustrophobia, so flashbacks (or any sort of exit fro the coffin) would have broken that feeling. Flashbacks are a cheap shortcut to inform an audience about a character, and it takes away from the story unfolding in front of us.

        As for the ending…tear jerking also wasn’t what the movie was aiming for either. This ending was raw and realistic. He was lied to about everything, manipulated, and coerced to do things that never even helped him. Very reminiscent of real life. I like this movie, because it trapped the audience in the coffin, and never let them go…much like the main character. It’s a different movie, not for all audiences, but don’t hate on it just because it didn’t follow the typical thriller storyline.

  17. It left me speechless and somewhat disappointed but in the back of my head it feels like I knew something like that would happen.

  18. The whole movie, all I could think about was my desire to have the tension released by the coffin being opened. I liked the sub text through out the film but it would have been much more satisfying with an alternate ending. If the intention was to have anticipation and tension build through out the film, just to have no release or resolution… mission accomplished. Have they no consideration for the intended audience of this film? It is obvious how people would hope the movie to end. I just really cant see the purpose of creating such an anticipatory film just to let it fall so completely flat at the end. Thoroughly irritated.

  19. In my opinion it was a waste of my time. If I knew it would have(heads up spoiler alert)ended with them going to a dead guys coffin I wouldn’t of watched it at all. It was pretty boring and if u manage to sit through all that y have talent. I tried then the ending came and ruined it because like c’mon if u watch it u will know why everyone is so pist off. It had great plot but I would have liked to see what was going on outside and maybe one or to flashbacks. Here is a summary: a good man but very poor man is trying to help out a third world country and he later gets notice that he was “fired” ten minutes before his convoy was attacked and has only 700 dollars and no insurance in his bank account and then ends up dying. POINTLESS IS WHAT I HAVE TO SAY AND THE DIRECTOR IS A IDIOT. DON’T WASTE UR MONEY!

  20. Great movie, just watched it then, felt like i was in the box with him (ryan reynolds?), really thought provoking, just not the greatest stroy line, i was expecting for a scene or plot before hand and then him waking up in a coffin. But great acting ect, a very realistic ending. If you want happily ever after go watch the disney channel. Great movie, bit of a time waster to be there with him the hole hour and a half and then to see him die. 4/5