After cool retro Saul Bass-style opening titles a pitch black screen greets us. We hear heavy breathing and thudding. Finally Ryan Reynolds lights a zippo lighter and we're right there with him - trapped in a wooden coffin buried underground.
Reynolds panics, sweats profusely, claws at the wall, etc. A cell phone at his feet rings. He retrieves it with some difficulty to find that its an Arabic language model. Reynolds calls every number he can think of mostly getting answering machines before getting somebody on the phone from the Hostage Working Group in Iraq voiced by Robert Patterson.
That's right - Reynolds is a non-military working stiff truck driver buried alive in a war-torn Iraq in 2006.
Reynolds is told on the cellphone by a man (José Luis García Pérez) who denies being a terrorist that he has until 9:00 PM (just a few hours) to get his embassy to pay $5 million dollars for his release.
There are some abstract shots through the darkness surrounding our protagonist but the bulk of the entire film takes place inside the coffin.
We never see any other face but Reynolds but there are few recognizable voices on the other end of the phone besides Patterson including Samantha Mathis and Stephen Tobolowsky.
It would be tempting to joke that Reynolds couldn't act his way out of a sealed coffin because years ago I would've loved seeing Van Wilder get buried alive, but his performance is truly excellent here.
It's a convincing and emotional tour de force that kept me riveted from start to finish. It's also admirable that he chose this project as a welcome change of pace from rom coms like THE PROPOSAL and action tripe like WOLVERINE that has been dominating his career.
As chilling a scenario as could be imagined, BURIED is a grueling unpleasant experience in a lot of respects but its such a vital and gripping minimalist nightmare of a movie that it really shouldn't be ignored. It's the right time of the year for a fright and here director Cortés's Hitchcockian thrust really delivers.
"Buried" is now playing at the Colony Theater in North Raleigh. Consult the theater's website for show-times.