We can all name a scene from a movie or TV show in which someone gets buried alive and escapes just in the nick of time—Kill Bill, CSI, a weekly subplot on Days of Our Lives—but Ryan Reynolds one-ups all of them. He spends the duration of his newest flick, Buried, trapped in a coffin. Reynolds plays Paul, an American contractor in Iraq who is kidnapped and wakes up to find himself buried in a coffin with just a lighter, a cellphone and about 90 minutes to live. During Monday’s press conference, the actor and the film’s director and screenwriter talked about the challenges of setting the entire 90-minute movie six feet under.
Our pictures and interview, below.
“It was pretty miserable. I’ll never complain again on another film set as long as I live,” said Reynolds. “They strung me up and threw me all over sound stages on Green Lantern, and it was nothing compared to spending 17 days in this box,” he said.
Reynolds described how he had to do most of the lighting for the film via his character’s lighter. Also, in one scene, the coffin was quickly filling with sand, leaving him with little breathing room; paramedics were brought onto the set to ensure his safety. “I’m at such a fever pitch; the crew keeps ripping the top of the coffin off in the middle of the take because they’re freaked out… Finally I said, ‘If I call cut, get me the hell out of the box, but otherwise, let’s just keep going.’”
Making things worse was the snake. “I felt bad for the snake,” Reynolds said. “It was actually terrified. It was curled up in the corner and didn’t want to act.”
Screenwriter Chris Sparling points out that this isn’t a torture porn flick that’s scary for the sake of being scary, à la Saw. Without giving too much away, the movie’s theme deals with the frustrations of American bureaucracy.
“Buried isn’t a horror film. It’s a horrible and horrific situation he’s in, but this drama, with all these intense moments, falls into the horror category because a guy’s buried alive, and I think that’s something we’ve come to agree on as a horror set-up,” says Sparling. “There’s no one putting him in this box; it’s not Jigsaw putting him in this box.”
Sparling continued to say that he previously wrote a version of the script that was more of the Saw variety. “I didn’t want someone to put him in a box to torture him. I wanted a reason that was socially relevant and something that had more heft than someone just wanting to torture him. In a certain sense, I think people get hung up on that. It’s like calling Friday the 13th a horror movie because Jason wears a hockey mask.”