January 24, 2010

'Buried' Bought at Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival is underway in Park City Utah, and one of the films I was most interested in has already been sold, which is good news, 'cause that means it should be hitting theatres in the near future. The film in question is called Buried, and what intrigues me about this project is its high concept. The movie unfolds in real time and opens with a man, a contractor in Iraq, played by Ryan Reynolds, waking in a coffin to discover he's been buried alive. He has just a cellphone, a flashlight, a lighter and ninety minutes of oxygen before he will die.

The only location for this movie is the claustrophobic confines of the pine box Reynolds finds himself in and the only source of light is the screen on his cellphone, a flashlight and the flickering flame of his Zippo. For the next 90 minutes, the movie is set entirely and exclusively in the coffin. No flashbacks, not cut aways to the world outside, just Ryan Reynolds inside a dark coffin fighting for his life. I've always been intrigued by films like this that utilize one location dating back to when I first got into Alfred Hitchcock and marveled at his film Rope, which not only takes place entirely in one apartment, but also is designed to appear to have no camera cuts throughout it's running time with the exception of the exterior establishing shot and the final shot of the film, which again cuts outside. (The film actually did have other cuts, but they were all hidden as the camera passed behind something to make the edits invisible.) Hitchcock tried the same exercise in a much smaller location closer in spirit to Buried with his 1944 film Lifeboat, which takes places entirely in a lifeboat in the North Atlantic following a wartime sinking.
The creative challenges that Buried director Rodrigo Cortes faces in telling this story fascinate me and I can't wait to see this movie to see how he choose to tell this story. The movie premiered last night at a midnight screening at Sundance, and the movie played so well with the audience that he immediately sparked a bidding war, won by Lionsgate. The late night screening spawned many solid reviews and if Lionsgate, who paid just under $4 million for the film, markets this movie properly they could have a micro-budgeted hit on their hands in the vein of Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project.

Check out the teaser trailer below:

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