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. Hmmm, seems to similar to the Quentin Tarantino directed two-parter of CSI where they locked up George Eades for ransom.

    looks like a Netflixer.

    • Ants!!!!

  2. Wow. I wasn’t sure how this would be. In all honesty, I like Reynolds. While his movies are not the best, he usually is good in them. I am curious to see this side of him. I will probably see this now.

  3. So is buried better than devil?!

  4. If this can invoke fear the same way The Descent did, I’m on board… although I may have to wait for the DVD so I can pause it to step out of the claustrophobia a time or two.

    • the descent was awesome

  5. excellent

  6. Too bad you only got air for a few minutes in a coffin, as seen in an episode of Mythbusters, therefore that little piece of info ruined the film for me, as I would know it would be either the shortest film ever, or an incredibly unrealistic one.

    • Not entirely true. There have been many documented cases of people being prematurely buried who lived for day. Granted most or them pulled out their hair or scratched themselves to almost death.

    • Yeah, just like they said a jetpack wasn’t able to constructed, but yet here we are with successful jetpacks.

  7. Wouldn’t the lighter burn up his oxygen even faster?

    • If you are going to keep someone for ransom it would be rather stupid to forget to poke air holes in the box?
      From the photo with the lighter above it seems likely there’s a scene where he discovers a draft between some of the boards.

      I’m more impressed by the fact that his cell phone has a signal when underground.

  8. My great grandfather was buried alive, not in a coffin, but in a dirt hole while doing construction work many, many, years ago, he was killed instantly. I can’t imagine one would last much longer in a box, there’s just not enough air.

    • That’s h-core dude! :(

  9. At first I had no interest, but then a lot of positive reviews have been coming in and then I was on the fence. After reading this review I’ll give it a shot.

  10. I liked his performance in the Amityville horror remake.

  11. What about the lighter? Fire needs air to burn… wouldn’t that just use the air up even faster with his breathing?

  12. Just went to see burried – about 20 mins into the film I was ready to walk out!!!!

    This is the worst film I have ever seen in my entire life!! I advise you not to waste your time or money watching this film..

    What a load of crap!

    • Post a read name, none of this forum troll crap!

    • your face is crap

    • @buriediscrap

      What a stupid name you have, probably just as stupid as your ignorance. You probably didn’t like it because it wasn’t in 3D or didn’t have $100 million CGI effects. Go back to watching your pathetic transformers rubbish, a$$hole that you are! =)

      I would give buried 7 out of 10

      Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.

    • good im glad some1 sees it my way :D

  13. Too bad the movie is so anti Bush and evil government. When is hollywood going to make one positive movie on the War in Iraq?

    • It was called the Hurt Locker…that’s about as positive as it will get for that situation..Does anyone remember Hollywood making a positive film on Vietnam? I’m asking in all seriousness…The last war that had a film made with a positive message is WW II…not really into the genre that much so..

      • The Green Berets? :-)

  14. Maybe you didn’t like if and maybe it’s not good but worst film? Give me a break. Have you only seen two films?

  15. I love the concept but I feel the dialoge with the people on the other end of the phone and some of the acting of those poeple let it down somewhat.
    Some bits didn’t ring true, I’ve used those light sticks, they last for ages, I also feel the ‘intruder’ was totally unnecessary.
    The film didn’t manage to make me feel any empathy with Paul, I can’t say I cared much whether he got rescued.
    One thing that intrigued me somewhat, the costume designer got quite prominent ‘billing’ in the credits, did they really pay someone to ‘design’ that costume?

  16. I knew it. It sucks. Will not be paying hard earned money to see this especially in these hard economic times.

  17. really enjoyed this film only thing it lacked was how he got to be there

  18. What happened to the Oct. 8 wide release? Was it pulled?

  19. ok ok let me get 1 thing straight, how many screw ups do they actually wana put in a movie? i really dont know where to begin.
    for a start, how realistic is this 2 b honest… the kidnapper gives this guy a phone, “alchohol”, anxiety tablet, 2 glowstick, a torch which doesnt work and a lighter. Are you serious? what kind of person does that?
    ok now if the box had a hole in it for a snake to get in, it cant be that strong because it wasnt there to begin with
    number 2… the guy fully takes plenty of these anxiety tablets along with this alchohol which is strong enough to light a big enough fire to kill a snake and he didnt even trip out… by rights he should of been close to dead there
    WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE 2ND GLOWSTICK? im not sure because what i remember is 1 of the glowsticks getting broken and then 2nd one just disappeared
    now with the phone business, the dude on the other side of the phone constantly told John to turn the phone off silent to keep battery charged up enough yet he kept it on for like 5 mins of the movie and changed it back. The phone never died… wats the point in that? waste of time if you ask me
    i could go on forever about the mistakes made in this movie but i think i have enlightened viewers enough that this movie isnt like the reviews at all… waste of money

    • What type of Person Buries a innocent man alive?

  20. Worst movie in a long time.. it had no point to it..

    • i know right? how r ppl giving reviews which give high hopes for movies which end up being absolutely terrible?

      • This movie was great. A great story.
        And normo he didnt have a torch he had a knife. And are u stupid? He left him a cell phone and knife and all that stuff as stuff for him to do. Like when he wanted him to send a ransom video of him with the phone camera duh!!! It was all planned by the iraqi thats why he had all the stuff!! And no kidding its not real its a Movie!! And the snake got in by cracks in the wood cause the mentioned several times he not buried far.

      • This movie was great. A great story.
        And normo he didnt have a torch he had a knife. And are u stupid? He left him a cell phone and knife and all that stuff as stuff for him to do. Like when he wanted him to send a ransom video of him with the phone camera duh!!! It was all planned by the iraqi thats why he had all the stuff!! And no s*** its not real its a Movie!! And the snake got in by cracks in the wood cause the mentioned several times he not buried far. I give this movie a 9/10. Great movie.

  21. ….good movie… but the ending…!?!? gosh after an entire movie of hardcore claustrophobic panic… perhaps and happy ending!? I felt kind of empty when i saw the generic pull up….

    • Same here Dave, once he got the last phone call from Dan I was so excited but then the ending came and I was devastated

  22. great movie 8/10

  23. dave, what ending did you see?! the one I saw was anything but.

  24. This movie was a brilliant idea, well directed, well acted, but poorly written. Paul Conroy is gifted with sub-par intelligence in this suspense thriller, and due to this, we as the audience are ahead of him most of the movie (through strategies of dealing with issues in the coffin, to conversations on the phone).

    One of the redeeming qualities of Hitchcock was gifting his main characters with unique perspectives or intelligence. Sadly, the character of Conroy does not have either of these.

    • THis was a great movie. Never have I appreciated the open air till after viewing this one. Even the LA’s smog-filled air!

  25. Just watched this. What a trip. Entertaining enough, and Im surprised Reynolds had it in him to manage all those different emotional states decently.
    Only thing is, like Sixth Sense, it’s sort of watch once movie. It hinges too much on the ending, once it’s seen, there’s no point in watching again. Yeah, I know people watched sixth sense again to look for things they missed before, but im talking soley for the story experience it’s good for one viewing.

  26. This movie was great all the way through, bordered on brilliance – I mean just imagine if they have thought up a wonderful twist, or even some thoughtful ambiguity at the end. But as it was… the ending left me a bit gutted.

    Well, it’s different to the usual stories we like to hear, that say after long struggle and sacrifice life will, in the end, give us the break we deserve. But I suppose that’s because people who don’t get a break never get to write stories.

  27. This movie is honestly quite terrible. Please go watch the movie before responding to my post. The movie is extremely unrealistic. There is no draft and no source of air. The main character, Paul, keeps his lighter lit the whole time. He keeps his lighter lit for the most mundane tasks, such as reading his cellphone screen. I mean seriously? You need a light to read the screen on your cellphone? Furthermore, Paul countinuosly says that he is suffocating and that he is running out of air many times throughout the movie yet he keeps his lighter lit. Half of the movie is complete silence with just Paul waiting for something to happen. The movie even gives false hopes. There are many points in the movie when there are hints at a plot twist, but it just turns out to be nothing. I was simply left hanging thoughout the movie. Watch with my warning that what you are watching really is a man stuck in a box. With no time lapses. It is all occuring in real time. He is stuck for two hours, you are watching for two hours. There are no speed ups through the many parts of silence. All that said, have fun!

    • OMG.. I feel like Paul myself.. From the get go I’m sucked into his world, a 2 x 8 ft. pine box.. suffocating.. Literally suffocating as I wait from something to happen.. Anything…

      What a terrible attempt to create some sort of cinematic master piece.. Really.. did I just watch that ? Did Reynolds actually make that movie ? Two questions I can’t stop asking myself.. The idea had merit and could have gone so much further but honestly I felt like I was at college film festival and this was th “credit card” funded winner..

      Anyone who claims to love this or urge people to watch just feel duped and want others to feel duped.. This is a prime example of cinematic abuse of an audiences.. I was mentally and intellectuality raped..

      Save yourself.. stay away from the light… CASTAWAY ITS NOT.

  28. I will keep this very simple. This movie was sucked so bad, it followed
    with an uncontrollable burn to register for any vehicle I could and
    warn people.

  29. Anyone who liked this movie is sick in the head. I thought the worst movie I had ever seen was the clumps…. I was wrong…. really? The whole movie is in the coffin it never shows his rescue effort… and he dies at the end after being lied to about a guy being rescued…. if you are mentally insane and like to see people slowly die then this is the movie for you

    • spoiler alert would have been nice..i can understand not liking a movie but trying to ruin it for everyone else is not only a lack of respect for the filmmakers but respect for fellow movie watchers