Judge Gordon Sullivan would rather be buried alive than watch this film again.
Save Your Breath.
Buried Alive. The name alone should give you an idea of what you're in for. I know that claustrophobia and the fear of being buried alive are both very potent ideas in our society, but does the world need another film titled Buried Alive? While researching this review, I found that the IMDb listed thirteen films whose titles are an exact match. The same level of originality applied to the title is present in the rest of the film. Like the mutant baby of Valentine and Saw, Buried Alive offers tepid torture porn for the attention-deficit crowd.
In Buried Alive, five friends are kidnapped and wake up in separate underground coffins, each of which is specially designed for its occupant. These five friends have to race against time to figure out who the killer is before he can kill them. Meanwhile, above ground, Melanie (Brit Morgan, Beer for My Horses) and her brother Travis (Jeff Blum) are using Web video and text messages in a desperate bid to find their missing friends.
I'll give the filmmakers (and Sony) credit for trying to tap into the emerging market of viral video by creating a film that plays out in one- to three-minute bursts released over time via the Internet. Maybe, just maybe, Buried Alive would have worked if seen that way. However, on this DVD, the film plays out in one 65-minute chunk and, despite the quick cuts and fancy video effects, it didn't grab me for a single second.
The plot is as old as viral video technology is new. A geek wants revenge on the rich, privileged jerks who had wronged him in the past. So, to exact revenge he enacts an elaborate scheme to lay bare their shallow, meaningless lives. Ho hum. The film spends so much time trying to telegraph that a particular character is the culprit that all but the most gullible of viewers will know that it can't be him. Once Mr. Obvious is out of the running, there's only one other decent suspect, and it turns out he's the killer. Not an ounce of suspense is present in the whole film.
If there's one thing that's worse than the plot of Buried Alive, it's the characters. If you're going to put five people in ground and expect the audience to care, then you have to make them good enough to sympathize with or bad enough for the audience to root for their death. None of the characters in Buried Alive fall into either category. They're all just obnoxious enough for me to not care, while never being evil enough for me to want to see them dead. Our heroes above ground are walking stereotypes. Travis is a pseudo-elitist film school-style wannabe, while his sister is an overly confessional hysteric taken straight out of the more melodramatic moments of The Blair Witch Project. The only glimmer of hope was the aforementioned Mr. Obvious, who plays the outcast fairly well.
The extras claim that Buried Alive was shot in HD, but that matters little to the end product. It suffers from no compression artifacts or other difficulties, but it's been treated digitally to create headaches. While I doubt that was the intention of the director, it's the only way to explain the jumpy, handheld, static-laden image that represents most of Buried Alive. The whole film is supposed to occur from cameras that could be in the scene, which is a noble goal. However, in practice all it leads to are obnoxious cuts, lines all over the screen, and nausea-inducing camera movements. The audio is fine for what it is, but it sounds intentionally degraded as well, which makes it less fun to listen to.
The extras are more than the film deserves. There are some deleted scenes (as if we needed more of the film), a making-of which covers the production in loving detail, and finally a commentary. The filmmakers are very proud of what they've accomplished, and on a technical level, they should be. If only they'd applied their technical expertise to a story worth telling.
Don't bother with this one. Buried Alive should stay buried. Guilty.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• Deleted Scenes
Review content copyright © 2008 Gordon Sullivan; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.