DVD Review: Buried

by | Jan 27th, 2011 | 9:00AM | Filed under: DVD Reviews, Movies

BuriedDVD Review: Filmed entirely in a coffin, Buried could have easily felt like a gimmick, but is instead a tense — if not totally believable — thriller about a U.S. contractor in Iraq who’s trapped six feet under.

The following is a reprint of redblog’s theatrical review of Buried. Buried is now available on DVD and Blu-ray at redbox.

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) awakens to find himself in a wooden coffin — buried somewhere in Iraq. And so begins the worst day of his life.

Slowly but surely — and after the inevitable freak-out, complete with screaming at the top of his lungs and violent shaking — Paul calms down, gets acquainted with his surroundings, and realizes that he has a few items with him in his underground prison: a lighter, a cell phone, a canteen, and a knife. For some inexplicable reason (perhaps he’s not that deep? perhaps he doesn’t have AT&T?), the cell phone seems to work, though it cuts out often and is not fully charged.

Paul’s sole mission becomes getting himself rescued. He frantically tries to remember the emergency number given to him by his employer, because the card with that number is now missing from his empty wallet. He tries to reach his wife. He tries to get through to an emergency line in the U.S. And then he receives a call — a call from the man who buried him. This man wants millions of dollars from the American government for Paul’s release, and he wants it in a matter of hours. Paul knows that even without these ransom demands, he probably won’t survive too long in the coffin — there’s only so much oxygen to go around. And the phone’s battery is fading fast.

From the opening scene, Paul’s dire situation will raise one huge question in every audience member’s mind: What would I do? Whether or not you approve of Paul’s tactics may determine your level of connection or frustration with the film. I, for one, found it quite ridiculous that Paul would ever be foolish enough to hang up on someone he’s actually reached — yet he does. I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t he try this?” and “Why doesn’t he do that?”, which means that as a viewer I obviously felt vested in Paul’s fate… but the fact that I disagreed with how he went about trying to secure his escape also means that I lost some sympathy for the character and therefore wasn’t as emotionally moved as I might (should) have been. Maybe I’m just heartless, but I didn’t have a lot of patience for Paul’s temper tantrums.

The most unique thing about Buried is that Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés shot it entirely in a coffin. Let me assure you that the film does not suffer because of this constraint — its sole location is, in fact, its greatest asset. By the end of Buried, you’ll feel like you were right there beside Paul, trapped underground. (Did I already warn claustrophobics to stay far, far away from this movie?)

Buried movieCortés was beyond creative with camera angles — and other tricks — to keep the tension high and the pace moving. And I have to hand it to screenwriter Chris Sparling. Even though I wasn’t a fan of some of Paul’s choices, I truly appreciated how often he was sent to somebody’s voice mail, or was put on hold, or had to deal with bureaucratic crap. There were also a few twists concerning his phone conversations that upped the already high tension.

For those wondering if Sparling and Cortés were trying to make any political statement with the film, my answer is that if they were, they didn’t bang the audience over the head with it. I’m not a fan of overt and obvious political sentiments seeping into thrillers, and so thankfully I didn’t feel like any message that was pushed wasn’t believable. For example, one point that is made is that some of the victims of a war are just regular people who aren’t soldiers and don’t have anything to do with any given government’s agenda. That seemed like a reasonable and realistic message to me.

Regardless of whether or not you are surprised by how things turn out for Paul, Buried will affect you. You’ll likely find yourself thinking about it days later… and chances are you’ll still be wondering how in the heck Cortés pulled off such a unique and powerful film — all in the space of a coffin.

Buried is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray at redbox.

Other twisty thrillers with unique premises available at redbox:

- Frozen

- The Experiment

- The Square

16 Responses to “DVD Review: Buried”

  1. jay
    Posted on January 27, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I liked the movie all the way up the ending. That really killed it for me.

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Posted on January 31, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    My family and I were so excited the day this movie came out at the local REDBOX! Since we do not frequent the movie theater, we had not yet seen Buried and were anxious to get it going. WE put the movie in and for about the first 45 min we were glued to the TV wondering what most others probably did. How was he going to be discovered to get out? Well, after a load of laundry, help with homework and potty breaks, we finally realized that this movie has to be the all time high for the lowest budget ever!!!!!! You virtually never see other scenes other than this box. The movie was a huge let down and needless to say a waste of our time so please, don’t waste yours. Wanna know how it ends without being told? Just think…..do terrorists really have any amount of mercy upon their prisoners? I gave this movie a 1 star rating only because it wouldn’t let me give less!

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Posted on February 1, 2011 at 12:28 am

    This movie held my interest ONLY because I wanted to know how it ended. It became almost predictable as time went on. I also think it was somewhat a waste of Ryan Reynolds’ talent. I’m sure glad I didn’t pay a theater admission price to see it.

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Posted on February 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

    total wast of time.

    • Currently 3/5 Stars
    Sheila Earley
    Posted on February 1, 2011 at 10:28 am

    My husband and I made a deal that if the first 10 minutes of this movie was Ryan Reynolds in a coffin we would turn it off. By the first 5 minutes we were so into the movie that we forgot all about the deal. Ryan Reynolds is showing that he can do more than romantic comedy anyday.

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Kristi Melchior
    Posted on February 1, 2011 at 10:54 am

    What a waste of time…this movie has to be on the lowest budget …If
    you wanna watch someone stuck in a box the whole movie then this is the movie. Very disappointed!

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Posted on February 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    my daughter and I watch alot of movies and many times at the end we look at each other and say “man, I’m glad I didn’t pay to see that at the theater”. This movie was so bad, I actually got upset that I paid a dollar. After about 30 minutes of watching him in “the box” I told her to fast forward it to see if the movie ever shows anything other than the box. We did finally at the end watch the last 5-10 minutes of it just to see how the writer could put an end to this misery. Like Kelleerjet, I only gave it one b/c It would not let me give it zero.

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Posted on February 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm


  2. lcismeredbox
    Posted on February 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    This is undoubtedly the worst movie I have ever seen. I thought Sex & the City II was bad. Geez! I am a huge Ryan Reynolds fan….. I fast forwarded to the end and was so glad I didn’t waste my time watching the entire movie for that ending.

    Please Ryan, choose your roles more carefully next time.

    • Currently 2/5 Stars
    Carolyn Henry
    Posted on February 3, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I like others had to make myself continue watching this movie but enjoyed it in spite of the outcome. It truly showed Ryan’s ability’s include more than just comedy. I did not recommend this movie because what most people look for in movies is ENTERTAINMENT…..

  3. julieannep
    Posted on February 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    After thirty-five minutes I shut this movie off and returned it the next morning with out a second thought. I like Ryan Reynolds as an actor, but just found this movie too boring.

    • Currently 3/5 Stars
    Posted on February 4, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I agree with this review. The camera angle and lighting variations keep it visually interesting, and some of the phone conversations, especially at the end, are very moving. Maybe it got to me more because I’m fairly claustrophobic myself, but it really had me rooting for that beam of sunlight.

  4. homemaker33
    Posted on February 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    This movie really upset me it kept me interested but left me so upset at the end. Totally dissapointed.

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Lafayette Dickens
    Posted on February 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    This is not entertainment. Although something like this could actually happen, it is not the stuff of movies. I would not recommend it to anyone. My wife and I were totally disgusted with it and regretted wasting our time and money on it. If you watch 10 minutes of it, you’ve pretty much seen all you are going to see. All the other characters in the movie are voices on the phone. Half a star would be an appropriate value.

  5. brent
    Posted on February 6, 2011 at 12:36 am

    WORST MOVIE EVER MADE don’t waste your time i wish i could get back the hour and a half I just lost watching this film. here is the story a man buried in a box the end.

    • Currently 4/5 Stars
    Posted on February 26, 2011 at 12:42 am

    The Worst Movie Ever? Seriously? Do you people not remember “The Ice Pirates?”, or “The Happening?” (which I call, the “WHAT HAPPENED?”). There are a number of ridiculously horrible films out there and in my humble opinion, calling this the worst movie ever isn’t accurate.

    With that being said, I agree with our writer, that some of the choices that Paul made could affect you in a negative sense towards him, and the temper tantrums were crazy, but consider a couple of things:

    1) He’s buried 6 Feet Under…Ok, how many of us, seriously, would not absolutely freak out if that happened, especially when you have to deal with all of the push back? They say the best thing to do is remain calm…but how many of us would be able to pull it off? I can’t raise my hand to say I’d be level headed…which leads me to…

    2) He has anxiety issues, and has to take meds to really calm himself down. Again, trapped in a box, oxygen running out, and not getting clear answers, you’re not going to be able to keep your cool…

    The political message is there, and it’s not a sock full of quarters to the face, which makes it not make me roll my eyes at the movie that normally would do that to beat an idea into our thick skulls.


    As for the ending and people being disappointed: Life is not a happy ending. People die in horrific fashions in areas domestic and abroad. I applaud a movie that has the guts to leave you with an ending that can make you sick, can bring an emotional response to you of being upset, offended, etc. I still stand by one of my favorite movies with a depressing ending, “The Mist”. Some movies just aren’t for some, as we often want to be happy with the ending, we want something uplifting when we see such darkness around us.

    I rate it 4 Stars because they went there, they were able to get an emotional response from me, multiple in fact, and will be a movie I think about for a while.