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Film / Buried

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Buried is a 2010 English-language Spanish thriller film directed by Rodrigo Cortés, written by Chris Sparling, and starring Ryan Reynolds.

Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a US Contractor in Iraq. After an attack on his convoy, he awakens in a coffin with no idea how he got there. He has only a cell phone and a lighter, and starts to make frantic calls as he tries to remember what had happened to him and why this is happening to him now.

Buried premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2010.


This film provides examples of:

  • Buried Alive: The premise of the entire movie.
  • Chiaroscuro: No sunlight penetrates the coffin, and the artificial light sources make harsh shadows.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Dan tells Paul that they've found him, and begin unburying him. The one they found ends up being Mark White, not Paul.
  • Daydream Surprise: Paul finally gets bathed in light as a team of soldiers unbury him and crack the coffin open, only for the movie to cut back to Paul, still staring at the wooden boards above him and daydreaming.
  • Downer Ending: Possibly an Ambiguous Ending. After the credits, there's a cryptic shot that shows us that Paul wrote the name Mark White on the lid of his coffin. The meaning of the shot is not immediately clear. It's possible that they dug Paul up successfully, took off the lid, saw the name on it, and assumed it was Mark White. The scene appears to be shot so that the lid is still on and the coffin is filling up with sand, but it's somewhat ambiguous, and Paul is out of it so the film could simply be showing us his perception of the situation. That still leaves a dead 26-year-old med student out there in Iraq somewhere, but the movie wasn't about him so it's a little less depressing.
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  • Enclosed Space: It doesn't get any more enclosed than the coffin.
  • Fingore: Paul's captors make him cut off his own finger.
  • 555: Averted. Several full phone numbers are mentioned over the course of the film, none of them including 555.
  • Flashback: Averted, while most of the viewers expect to see some flashbacks to mix up a bit the constant scenes with just the wooden box and Ryan in it, the movie never actually leaves the box.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Everyone except Paul.
  • Hope Spot: A particularly nasty one. Mixes with Downer Ending. Dan calls Paul just as his coffin is almost completely filled with dirt and tells him that they've found him. Paul's wife, Linda, calls and he switches over to tell her they've found him. They exchange "I love yous", then he switches back to Dan. On the other line, you hear the soldiers digging, desperately trying to get Paul out. At the last second, Dan apologizes and tells Paul that they've been led to the wrong person just as the coffin fills up completely. Cue credits.
    • The Hope Spot is two-fold. The body they find is that of a man that Dan earlier tells Paul that he saved months ago. Since he had to lie just to give one example of a successful rescue, Dan has presumably never saved anyone before. What little hope for rescue Paul had throughout the film was based on a lie.
  • Kick the Dog: Paul's employer phoning him in the coffin to inform him his employment has been terminated and his family will not receive any benefits. Jesus Christ, that was low.
  • Minimalist Cast: Ryan Reynolds is the only actor shown. Save for one character seen in a video on a cell phone, there's no one else in the film.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers promoted this as being similar to the Saw movies. It is nothing like it at all, and is closer to an art film.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Paul's employers, who contact him to let him know that his employment was terminated that day and his family won't be recieving any insurance, then leave him to rot.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Literally the only lights come from a lighter and an old flashlight giving off yellow/orange light and a cellphone and glowstick giving off blue/green light. Combine the two together as occurs in several shots and you get this.
  • Plot-Induced Stupidity: Several cases. Paul's kidnappers initially not telling him about the bag at the foot of the coffin (and indeed placing it in such a difficult place to begin with), despite obviously wanting him to use it. Also, leaving Paul a zippo (which would burn up oxygen, cutting Paul's life expectancy short and leaving the kidnappers less time to get their ransom), when they also left him a flashlight. Also the silver hip flask which, in normal circumstances, would also most likely be looted .
  • Small, Secluded World: Almost nothing gets in or out of the coffin, not even the camera.
  • Squirrels in My Pants: While Paul was sleeping, a poisonous snake crawled up his pants. The next scene shows Paul waking up as it slides out of his pants, where he sets it on fire.
  • Super Cell Reception: Paul Conroy manages to make calls to the USA with a mobile phone, while buried in a wooden coffin in Iraq. He only loses one or two calls to a bad signal, and the battery manages to last the entirety of the film. Of course, since the action never leaves the coffin, he has to be able to call people.


Example of: