It’s hard to imagine someone being able to make a movie that features only one character onscreen for the whole 90 plus minutes and actually being able to make it work, let alone just watchable. Oh, sure, I could watch Natalie Portman do her nails for 90 minutes, or Megan Fox sunbathe. Hell, I even love the movie Babe. 90 minutes of a talkin’ pig? I’m in. But a movie about a guy buried alive in a coffin? Really?
It’s hard to imagine someone being able to make a movie that features only one character onscreen for the whole 90 plus minutes and actually being able to make it work, let alone just watchable. Oh, sure, I could watch Natalie Portman do her nails for 90 minutes, or Megan Fox sunbathe. Hell, I even love the movie Babe. 90 minutes of a talkin’ pig? I’m in. But a movie about a guy buried alive in a coffin? Really? What the Hell is he gonna do for an hour and half? Well, he’s gonna act his pants off while the director and cinematographer get inventive and you’re gonna love it.
Ryan Reynolds, who is amazing in this, plays Paul Conroy, a truck driver that works for a company that transports supplies in Iraq. He wakes up in a wood coffin underground, with a lighter, a crappy flashlight, a glowstick, and a BlackBerry type phone, and a couple of random things he had in his pocket. Good luck! Yeah, so he has to figure out, from his limited memories, how he got there and who put him there. We find that he has about two hours to find a way to get 5 million dollars to his captors or he’ll end up like a pet in a shoebox.
Wow. Intense, right? Right! And it pretty much stays that way. This thing is a nail-biter, and we owe it to the performance of Ryan Reynolds, some mighty fine camera work and a good screenplay by Chris Spaulding. And I dare not forget the direction of Rodrigo Cortes. This is his first English language film, it appears.
This film completely takes place inside a wooden coffin. If you’re a claustrophobic, you might want to avoid this. You think The Descent was close quarters? That shit was Big Sky Country by comparison. The use of limited lighting, and the camera work (at one point there is a 360 degree view that is a bit disorienting) really makes this an effective thriller.
I gotta say, I was really wary of the premise of being able to use a cell phone underground, but they alleviate that doubt a little while in, and I’m pretty satisfied with it. It certainly became manageable enough to suspend my disbelief, anyway. The very few moments like that are small and don’t affect much. And frankly, Ryan Reynolds, who I like anyway, is really earning his keep here. He really manages to sell everything in this film. Remember, he’s probably acting against nothing. His character, after freaking out, makes a series of phone calls to try to get someone to help him. As an actor, he’s pretending to have these conversations with frustrating people that no concept of his situation. Sure, we’ve all been exasperated by talking to bureaucratic idiots on the phone, but this guy is BURIED IN A COFFIN. Trying to talk to the DMV clerk or a health insurance agent doesn’t seem so bad anymore. Actually that’s still pretty annoying, but you know what I mean.
The fact that Spaulding and Cortes made this movie at all is impressive, but on top of that they made it thrilling – and with what appears to be a decent budget. It looks great, the set is amazing- Ok, I know it’s only a wooden box, but it could have looked rickety or cheap, and it doesn’t. You really feel like you’re in this box with him. And then they even have the balls to put an action scene in the coffin. What. And you can add “contortionist” to Reynolds resume’, too.
I was a little wary of this film, but I can tell you I’m impressed. This is a good little thriller that will have your blood pressure up all the way through.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, pretty freaked out by being buried alive. Seriously, that’s not cool.