Whether or not Hitch would, that’s an apt summation of this unique thriller. After all, how many movies do you see that take place in a single location? Much less when that location is as confining as a coffin?
As truck driver Paul Conroy working in Iraq, Reynolds wakes up with a bonk on his head, not knowing where he is. A flick of his Zippo later, his locale reveals itself: a wooden box, presumably six feet underground in foreign territory. With little more than a flask of alcohol on his person, Paul wonders how he can possibly survive before he’ll die, either by lack of oxygen, suffocation by spilling sand, or at the hands of the terrorists who likely put him there.
He has a cell phone, but it’s not his, the text is in Arabic, the battery is dwindling, people he tries to reach typically aren’t at home or aren’t helpful, and the authorities cannot trace its signal. And then there’s a little problem with a snake.
Direction by Rodrigo Cortés and a script by Chris Sparling demonstrate how filmmaking can do more working with less. With a good story, which this obviously has, you’re 95 percent there. Reynolds’ everyman qualities instantly endear him to sympathetic audiences, who can’t help but think about the claustrophobia and what they would do in the same situation.
“Buried” manipulates viewers in a good way, making them everything it wants to, when it wants to: curiosity, amusement, frustration, tension and then … well, I’m not about to reveal how it all ends, but I will say I had the twist guessed before it arrived. Still, arriving at the last minute, that hardly hampered my enjoyment of a rather effective bare-bones approach to modern cinema. —Rod Lott