When I first heard about this movie, I thought it sounded really cool, and I stand by that – it does sound cool. A movie about a guy buried alive, and the ENTIRE movie is just him, in the coffin? Definitely a cool concept, but also, it turns out, one of those concepts that might be too cool to ever really have the movie live up to it.

It’s not that it’s bad, cause it isn’t. It’s just not quite as mind-blowing or memorable as I thought it might be. It’s definitely too long, that’s for sure. I get that it’s the concept of the film, but 94 minutes is a long time to watch a guy in a box. You can kind of tell they are struggling to fill that time at points – my least favorite scene is during the middle of the movie, when a snake manages to slither into the coffin, and we take a break from the story so that Ryan Reynolds can do battle with the creature. This part is completely pointless, and only added to draw things out.

I feel the same way about a later story element that has the people who kidnapped and buried Reynolds now demanding (through the cell-phone they have provided him) that he cut off one of his fingers while filming it with the phone’s camera. This part feels like it was added just to have another shock moment. I wish someone could have told the filmmakers that the whole buried alive thing comes with an adequate amount of tension in and of itself, without resorting to also throwing body mutilation into the mix as well.

Still, it IS pretty neat to see just how much director Rodrigo Cortes is able to pull with such a limited premise and resources. He constantly keeps the camera-work active and inventive enough that it never feels as stale as I feared a movie like this might. The best reason to sit through the movie at least once, though, is the performance of Ryan Reynolds, who is really giving it his all here. It’s a nice reminder that Reynolds can be more than just a clown – his work here is both intense and heartbreaking.

See it once, so you can say you did. Because, it DOES have that water-cooler vibe – a movie with a unique concept that everyone is going to want to see at least one time, and you don’t want to be the person who didn’t. You’ll probably dig it well enough (get it??), but I doubt you’ll have any desire to EVER watch it again in your life. I’m pretty sure once was enough for me.

This review was originally posted at Trevor Likes Movies on April 17th, 2011.

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