New Castle News

September 14, 2013

Josh Drespling: As ‘Buried’ proves, sometimes brilliance is thinking INSIDE the box

Josh Drespling
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Have you ever seen a film that was so intense and enthralling that the images, emotions, and concepts stuck with you for years upon years?

Those pictures and sounds lingered in your head to the point that it was no longer entertainment, but rather a life experience. Clips of the film replay in your head day after day, reminding you just how magnificent of a job the actors, director, and writer have done creating this fictional scenario that affected you long after the final credits rolled and the screen went blank.

I was fortunate enough to see such a film. Although it was over a year ago, it feels as though only a few days have passed since I was immersed in the “space” and atmosphere of this movie.

The film I am referencing is called “Buried.” Released in 2010, it was written by Chris Sparling and directed by Rodrigo Cortes. It stars Ryan Reynolds as the only person you see in the movie.

The concept is simple and elegant. It is the story of Paul Conway (Reynolds) who is a contracted truck driver for a U.S. firm working in Iraq. He awakens in complete darkness to find himself in a wooden box, buried beneath the sand somewhere in Iraq.

The entire 90 minutes of the movie transpires inside this terrifying box. There are no cutaways, no flashbacks, nothing to relieve the tension. The suspense builds and builds over time. And time, you soon realize, is the most pressing adversary.

It was meticulously shot to make you feel as though you are in this box buried alive. The tight shots of the actor’s face feed into the claustrophobic feeling of the piece. Panic, fear, anger, anxiety, and a whole range of emotions that one would obviously expect from a person completely helpless in such a situation are reminiscent of the brilliance of Hitchcock. The film also is comparable to “127 Hours” or “Wrecked,” where our hero and solo actor is thrust into an astonishing situation.

It takes guts to make a film like this. Conceptually brilliant and simplistic, yet it takes the limitation of what is perhaps the smallest single set of any movie to the limits without feeling forced or over the top. It’s not often that you see a film work so extraordinarily well with so little. Tension, did I mention tension? I was on the edge of my seat for the entire 90 minutes of this film.

However, this film is not for everybody. If you are the least bit claustrophobic you will be made incredibly uncomfortable. There are times that it is hard to breathe as your mind races to figure out what you could do to escape such a horrific doom.

In spite of a constant sense of time running out, there are some twists and surprises that I won’t spoil for you. You’ll just have to watch for yourself.

The part that gets the most resounding applause from me is the ending. The director and writer knew well enough to stay away from the typical Hollywood happy-ending scenario. Without giving out a spoiler, let’s just say that the final moments of this film leave your chest feeling empty and your soul fatigued.

As the juxtaposition of the closing credit music plays, you undoubtedly will be unable to speak as you stare at the screen in utter disbelief.