It’s enough to send shivers down your spine. Horror can also come in small packages, even a coffin. The no frills, literally underground thriller Buried impressively confirms this. Think interior decorating, and the many flourishes you can add to even a one room apartment if you let your imagination go to wild enough extremes, as Spanish director Rodrigo Cortes does in this internment for ransom thriller. Hopefully the genius machinations of screenwriter Chris Sparling’s stylishly deranged hostage script won’t go to any terrorist heads anytime soon. Sparling makes novel moves while scheming a high price tag kidnapping.
Ryan Reynolds takes suffering for your art to unimaginable new depths in Buried as Paul Conroy, a war zone truck driver in Iraq who signed on to deliver rebuilding supplies because he was in serious need of the cash. Paul is no clueless contractor unaware of the dangers he’s facing, but the blue collar working stiff was apparently swayed by assurances from the company that his safety would not be on the line.
So when Paul wakes up after being knocked out temporarily from a head wound and finds himself buried alive in a wooden coffin in complete darkness and only a cigarette lighter and somebody else’s Arabic cell phone for company, he’s confident that his company, or in the least the US government, will make his rescue a top priority on their to-do list. Think again, Paul.
With little air and less patience, the frantic hostage does the dial-a-kidnapper thing, and even attempts to summon help with long distance calls to family and friends who’d rather go shopping. Facing exorbitant insurgent demands that government cheapskates don’t care to meet, company suits fretting over distancing themselves from any liability, and a series of connections to answering machines, dial-up push button computerized voice commands, and being put on hold with elevator music by bureaucrats who’d rather not get involved, Paul makes do with just figuring out how to survive as long as possible.
And Reynolds excels at reaching into the theater and grabbing viewer minds, while subjecting the now likewise hostage held audience to vicarious frazzled nerves. As we face this nightmarish ordeal with him every step of the way, whether we care to or not.
Never has sheer dread ruled the screen and wreaked quiet havoc utilizing such assured scare tactics, with only a few gadgets and what amounts to a too close for comfort one-man show in terrifying real time, and while rarely moving a muscle in tight quarters. Which gives a radically spine tingling, not to mention awfully unpleasant new meaning to the notion of being embedded in a war zone.