Buried Review

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

Buried Ryan Reynolds1 Buried Review

For better or worse, the entire film takes place inside the pine box, from the moment Paul wakes to the film’s conclusion. There are no flashbacks, memories, or quick-cuts to another locale. We are limited exclusively to what Paul can see and hear – never privy to actually viewing what’s happening elsewhere. For the most part, this works to great effect – the dark and quiet confines of the box make the faintest hint of the world above ground sing. At times, Cortés will pull back from the restrictions of the casket but only by stretching the dimensions of physical reality (one shot features the camera rising away from Reynolds’ face in a lengthy wooden mineshaft) – though it’s clear these moments are only for effect.

For the most part, Cortés succeeds in bringing the audience into the box with Paul – however, there are also times where the dimensions of the space seem inconsistent – which will certainly take viewers out of the carefully constructed experience.

While Paul is buried on his back in a standard pine box, on more than one occasion he attempts to turn entirely around (in order to reach something at his feet); however, it’s unclear (given the amount of vertical space in the box) why he would ever need to turn around, instead of merely bending his knees and scooting down. This might sound like a small detail, but a driving strength behind Buried is the concept: a film that takes place entirely in this limited space, which feels immersive and tense. Whenever the film chooses drama over the carefully constructed concept, it breaks the spell and may yank viewers out of the moment.

Buried Ryan Reynolds 3 Buried Review

To the film’s detriment, Buried seems to require a constant stream of drama; even the most mundane moments are made dramatic (like turning around in the box) to keep the audience on the edge of their seats – asserting the omnipresent feeling of claustrophobia. However, at times, these same moments take us out of the experience because they don’t make sense,  given the carefully established rules. As a result, the tension feels a bit manufactured at times – Paul’s clinical anxiety, which he manages with medicinal pills, is a glaring example (as if being stuck underground in a box weren’t enough). The inclusion of this character detail adds nothing to the film, except to serve as an excuse, should the audience feel as though this man, buried in a pine box several feet underground by kidnappers in a foreign country, isn’t polite enough to the people who are trying to help him.

In terms of narrative momentum, there are a couple of scenes that offer nothing more than manipulative filler – keeping the tension high until the next phone call comes from Brenner or the kidnapper. The most prominent example, involving an unwelcome intruder, was especially tacked-on (as if Paul doesn’t have enough to worry about). As uncomfortable and shocking as the encounter is, it offers little consequence to the larger story.

These tacked-on moments of tension wouldn’t be so glaring in a bigger, less controlled film, but Cortés has relied so heavily on his concept – never allowing us out of the box throughout the 90 minute runtime – that it’s hard to reconcile when the carefully controlled experience wavers.

International Trailer For Buried Buried Review

This is the ultimate pitfall, and irony of the film: by attempting to make a movie that creates claustrophobia,  Cortés ends up just as restricted as the main character, unable to break out of the confines of his movie concept. Paul often laments that he shouldn’t have overlooked the dangers of contract work in Iraq – that somewhere in the back of his mind he always knew he was in over his head – and it’s hard to resist wondering if at times Cortés didn’t feel the same way, trapped and fumbling around in the dark, searching for something to stoke the drama within the confines of the box he had built for himself.

Buried is a great experience for anyone interested in the concept or anyone who is willing to enjoy the ride. Both Reynolds and Cortés deserve credit for their ambition and, most of the time, their execution. While the film is far from perfect, and can at times lose traction, there are plenty of tense moments and there is enough powerful emotional drama to keep audiences invested in Paul’s life or death situation and riding the edge of their seats.

Buried is currently showing in select theaters but opens in wide release on October 8th.

Follow us on Twitter @ benkendrick and @ screenrant and let us know what you thought of the film, or watch the trailer below to help you make up your mind:

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  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