Opening 4 Nov 2010
What a frightful situation: buried alive! That is what happened to Paul, a young American truck driver. Drowsily he wakes up, fully dressed in his work clothes. It is pitch-dark, and after switching on his lighter, he realises that he is trapped inside a wooden box, a coffin. Panic strikes. Why is he there? Suddenly, he hears a phone ring. It has slipped out of his trousers. He answers the mysterious caller, and the display reflects an eerie neon-green light on his face. The caller hollers at him, scolding him and giving orders in broken English before abruptly breaking off. He tries to trace the call but cannot read the Arabic letters on the mobile. Paul frantically dials an emergency number given to him by his employer. The connection goes through to the U.S. – but he is a civilian contract worker in the middle of Iraq. Telling some nice lady in an air-conditioned office that he is buried in a coffin does not come over well. Fear and frustration take hold of him whilst trying various numbers and leaving messages on answering machines. What a nightmare! He has to find out where he is and who put him there before he runs out of air.
Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés’ movie takes place entirely inside the coffin, challenging his technical creativity for different light sources and relying on changing sounds. Ryan Reynolds as the sole actor visible has to hold our attention for 90 minutes, which he does convincingly. Admittedly, the minutes drag at times but at other times, the adrenalin is shooting up. There are even some funny moments where Paul has to deal with ridiculous situations in his race against time. Buried is not a horror movie but a thriller based on psychological tension and emotions of an “ordinary” person caught up in a life-threatening situation. Buried had its world premiere at the Sundance Festival 2010. (Birgit Schrumpf)