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Buried and Devil Instant Reviews

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Mark Kermode | 14:48 UK time, Friday, 1 October 2010

Sometimes the scariest movies aren't the ones with the obvious monsters in them.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I was told Buried was not worth watching. Now i will watch it. If i end up snuffing myself as a result of watching it the bloods on your hands Dr.

  • Comment number 2.

    I was trapped in a lift once. It was my 6th Birthday Party. My mother, father, friend, cousin and I got inside the lift along with two other strange, old men (who were blatantly drunk). This lift was horrifying. Inside a dingy old building that I'm sure has been demolished now. There were no mirrors and it was pretty tight, especially considering there were seven people inside it. Suddenly, the lift jolted and everything just stopped. I can't quite recall how long we were trapped for, but to my small, six year old mind it seemed like hours. I started crying hysterically. So did my cousin, bawling that he'd never see his mummy and daddy ever again. My friend was just silent, with a plain face. Also, the two drunken men started pounding the doors, screaming with gargled voices "HELP US! HELP US! WE'RE TRAPPED INSIDE THE LIFT! HELP! JESUS CHRIST, HELP US!". My father then got into a fight with them because they were really upsetting us. It got to a point where my dear mother, bless her, allowed me to open the two presents I had with me. Kneeling down beside me; "Wow! Look at that, Kris. Isn't that what you wanted?". A Spiderman action figure. I just nodded while still sobbing. After what seemed like eternity, two security men forced open the doors, and I was late for my own birthday party. I'm now seventeen, and I never step into lifts unless it's absolutely vital. To me, being trapped in a lift is like being buried alive.

    Speaking of which; saw Buried yesterday. At the beginning I really felt like I was going to have a panic attack, and I actually considered walking out, but I'm really glad I stayed. I'm a big fan of really nasty, nihilistic, nightmarish films, but I am a coward of epic proportions.

  • Comment number 3.

    Dear Dr K.

    I am so glad you liked Buried. I saw it recently and any film that hold me in that state of anxiety and be simply be about a man trapped in a box for an hour and a half is definitely in my films of the year.

    I think what made Buried far better than Devil is the fact that you never leave Ryan Reynolds trapped in a box for a single second. By never leaving the coffin, you are with Ryan Reynolds completely, feeling the same state of claustrophobia and tension that the character is feeling. Devil leaves the confines of the lift and by leaving the confines you lose that sense of claustrophobia and fear.

    The power of Buried is the fact we never once venture outside the coffin.

    Buried is definitely in my list for films of 2010.

  • Comment number 4.

    Heh, at last I have something in common with Kermit: I don't like lifts either.

    On the subject of Buried, those scenes reminded me of some similar moments from Kill Bill Vol2. Whatever you say about the film as a whole, those few moments are still pretty tough to watch. (Though Mark would probably say that about the film as a whole, badum-tish!)

    And M Knight Shyamalan will forever be known to me now as M Knight Showaddywaddy. Thanks, Simon!

  • Comment number 5.

    When I was a kid, and a teenager, I had a huge fear of lifts, but that was to do with the 70s horror film Damien: Omen II, where the doctor gets trapped in the lift, and then gets sliced in half by the elevator counterweight.

    That movie alone stopped me from going in lifts for a long time.

  • Comment number 6.

    Going to see Buried tomorrow, Went to see Devil last week and what can I say it was pretty dull and predictable. I think the film fails to hold any interest in it's own concept. Being stuck in a lift with the Devil is a pretty poor vehicle to try and carry the film and the characters are so under developed I just dont care or hold any feelings for any of them.

    MNS proves again that he is a one trick pony and needs to learn that there doesn't have to be a huge twist at the end of every movie to make it narratively dynamic.

  • Comment number 7.

    This film is brilliant!!
    I had heard about the concept (90 minutes with a man stuck in a box with a lighter and a cell phone) and I was waiting for pretty claustrophobic experience.
    However, what I found was ALSO an incredible roller-coaster of a movie. It was wonderfully told and perfectly balanced.
    They even managed to have a couple of really tense action scenes... yes in a box!!! more action scenes, funny moments, mysteries, twists and turns than you could ever think and yet...

    The film is very brave and never lets the camera outside the box. It doesn't cheat either and yet it's never boring, slow or repetitious (I don't think there's a single shot being repeated twice).

    You know you're in for something interesting from the title sequence, which would have made Saul Bass and Hitchcock proud. Nicely designed, beautifully paced and with a "Hermanesque"score that you would probably expect from an action movies. And that pace and energy and inventiveness permeates the whole film.

    The first few minutes are probably the toughest to watch (no pun intended, since most of that time is spent on a black screen): it's the moment when our character realises is "buried". At one point I though to myself "If it is all like this I don't know if I can watch it..." It's a claustrophobic experience, more that I thought it would be
    But once the film gets going and the mystery unravels, then, you became used to the settings, just like the main characters does.

    I don't really want to give away too much, because part of the fun is discovering what's going on together with the character himself. And the film is beautifully constructed and gives you a new clue every few minutes making feel always fresh, new and just when you think the film has run out of tricks in the bag, here comes a new idea.
    I will just say that this is one of the most accomplished and inventive film I've seen in a while.

    Technically is pretty much faultless too: the camera swoops around the box and shows you the action from any conceivable point of view using pretty much any every trick in the book (zooms, tracks, extreme close ups and so on).
    The sound design and sound mix are both top notch and they have a lot to do with the fact that you really feel like you are in that damn box!

    The music, as I mentioned before for the title sequence, treats it all like a real action movie and to me that was probably slightly overdone. It works for most of it making even the silliest moment successful (the snake sequence, for example that when it start off I thought was a cheap trick, ends up being one of the most accomplished action-packed moment), but I can't help thinking it was a bit too bombastic in a few places.
    But I am really picking needles here and I shouldn't, because this is a little MASTERPIECE, probably not for the faint-hearted or people who suffers from claustrophobia, but if you like tense films, thrillers, action romps or simply good film making this is for you.

  • Comment number 8.

    Appropriate blog for the first of October. :)

    I'm not claustrophic, but I do have a possibly irrational fear of elevator doors. When I'm forced to take an elevator I have to rush in and out as quickly as possible in fear that the doors will malfunction somehow and close on me halfway in. I also sometimes get slightly concerned that a cable somewhere may snap and send us all plummeting to our doom... but closed spaces, not a problem. I love closed spaces.

    The Devil was not scary at all and the thing about your (very apt) Twilight Zone comparison is, besides that those stories just wouldn't work very well stretched into ninety minutes, the very best episodes were the ones that used the horror and science fiction devices as a way to point out faults in society and human nature in general, like The Monsters are Due on Maple Street or The Howling Man. I had myself convinced at one point that Devil was going to go in that direction as well, but then it just veered off into being another monster movie with a list of people to be picked off which was kind of disappointing.
    What is the Devil even doing in an elevator? If the Devil /was/ in an elevator, why would he be killing people? Wouldn't it be easier and more fitting just to trap them in there, turn the lights on and off a few times to make them paranoid and let them pick each other off?

    I don't know. I didn't hate it or anything as it was, but it was pretty forgettable; I guess I was hoping for something a little more clever than what the movie was. If I recall right, Shyamalan wrote this one too so that's yet another strike on his record (and I do believe the box office for the film suffered from having his name attached, by the way).

    Buried I haven't seen yet and am trying to convince myself that it isn't just going to be an extended writing exercise. Not to be a killjoy (and having not seen the film yet mind) but how tense can a film like Buried even be? Either the guy gets out of the box or he doesn't get out of the box. If he escapes, it's a cheap cop-out, if he dies, it's predictable and I don't exactly savor going to watch a movie about a man slowly suffocating to death for an hour and a half. It's too cheap and easy a way to make an audience squirm.
    Glad you liked it though, it makes me hopeful. I'll do my best to keep an open mind.

    On another subject, I'm leaving to see Catfish in ten minutes.
    Apologies for the long post.

  • Comment number 9.

    Buried sounds perfect minimalism; one actor, one set, a good story idea and a director that works the idea to the max. Can't wait to see it.

    And no zombies or vampires; got to be a plus nowadays.

  • Comment number 10.

    I, too, have an irrational fear of being buried alive - possibly due to exposure to Poe in childhood as well. The original Vanishing was one of the most unnerving movies I've ever seen.

    I think the only way I'm going to feel comfortable watching Buried is if I move the teev to face out of my lounge room window and I watch it sitting out in the front garden. It looks like the sort of movie I'll need to be able to stand up and move around for and I'm no wimp when it comes to filmic horror.

  • Comment number 11.

    Once again I echo @echobase's perfect description of this movie. I feel exactly the same way about it.
    Managed to get a read out of my opinion on Friday's 'last minute' edition of Film Review on Five Live due to the cancellation of the golf! WooHoo!
    I was very much like Dr K, watching through my fingers and feeling as if I were in the coffin myself. I felt every moment, the initial shock, the uncontrollable terror, the scrabbling to find a way out, the frustrating on hold phonecalls, the expletive filled responses to the people on the other end of the line. It all rang true to me.

    All in all it is a superb piece of cinematic tension that held my attention from start to finish. To not leave the coffin at any time was a brave and brilliant move, and kudos must go to Rodrigo Cortes for his amazing direction in such a tight space and of course to Ryan Reynolds who perfectly plays a very human reaction to such a dire situation.

    Haven't seen Devil, will probably wait for it on dvd and even then I might not bother.

  • Comment number 12.

    M.Night.Shamamamamamylan remains overrated and a massive fluke

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    You should hear the names of the critics in this trailer for Vampire Sucks.

    They probably don't exist like that other film critic

  • Comment number 15.

    Annex to #13 - You can't call a fictitious character a moron, apparently!?

  • Comment number 16.

    "...moron" is foul language?! Since when?! Since when was calling a FICTITIOUS person a moron inappropriate?! My word, Mr. / Ms. Mod *rolls eyes* *shakes head*...

  • Comment number 17.

    Hey, Mark, good call on "Buried." I went on your recommendation, given your prevalence as a "horror buff." The audience reaction was astounding. At least four women were weeping, even after the credits rolled (I guessed they didn't want to be seen in the light of the lobby with mascara all about their faces). Some gave loud gasps during the tensest scenes. Others simply begged for it to stop. Good call.

    A side note: this movie is perfect for meeting women. Get a good seat behind a woman or group of women. They fall apart; you pick up the pieces.

  • Comment number 18.


    I just finished listening to the show myself, good stuff. :) I guess I do need to see Buried eventually regardless of my reservations about it. It won't opening here until next week so I guess I have a little time to think about it. Devil's not worth the bother, imo.

    Related, do you think Dr. Kermode has seen Sergei Parajanov's Color of Pomegranates? Lots of gratuitous pomegranate action.

  • Comment number 19.

    Dammit, K, stop spoiling The Vanishing :(

  • Comment number 20.

    I dont think a fear of being buried alive is irrational, seems perfectly reasonable to me. I hate being confined, even a strong embrace leaves me longing to stretch my arms out Julie Andrews style while singing "the hills are alive".

    Like Neonman said its shocking you ruined the end of the vanishing for people who have not seen it, shame on you. They might as well watch the American version now.

    Im looking forward to Buried, the last film that did a good claustrophobic scene was "Frontiers", a French horror which apart from that was pretty poor.

    Oh on a final note, its great that the BBC media player goes to eleven. They could have made ten louder, but oh no, this goes to eleven.

  • Comment number 21.

    I just want to post something completely unrelated. After watching Film 24 where Dr K briefly discusses Jackie Chan's new film Little Big Soldier and how good Jackie Chan is, I felt sad it was so short and would love to see a Kermode Uncut entry on Jackie Chan.
    Many critics pay no attention to him or his films and I think dismiss films that are actually rather great - (Around the World in 80 Days springs to mind - particularly the scene where Jack fights off bad guys while accidentally painting a huge canvas painting - it's brilliant to be entertained by seeing something inventive.
    I think some people are reluctant in acknowledging that slapstick or such physical comedy is of any merit or takes any talent.

  • Comment number 22.

    Dear Good Dr,

    Can you blog about your love for the acting skills of Mark Wahlberg because I just don’t get it.

    I’ve not seen his entire back catalogue and don’t intend to. With offerings such as Max Payne (even hated by fans of the game) and shooter, I believe I would spend 90 minutes of my life doing better things, such as watching paint dry.

    I beg to differ regarding your observations and belief that he is a talented actor. Having unfortunately watched ‘The Happening’ my partner and I spent the best half of the film not only laughing at how poor the film was but how poor Wahlberg’s is at acting.

    Again, Lovely Bones, he want only badly casted for the role but his attempts to behave like a responsible parent are cringe worthy.

    And finally his opening scene in ‘The Departed’ is so bad, 4 big fans of Scorsese and ‘Infernal Affairs’, could not cope with continuing the film and decided to turn it off.

    His greatest achievement is clearly ‘Boogie Nights’ thanks to the genius of Paul Thomas Anderson’s perfect casting whereby he required a person to fill the role of a porn star. These requirements being wooden acting (no pun intended), bad timing, cheesy approach and a smugness that makes you want to throw bricks at the television.

    I agree with you on almost EVERYTHING but this I clearly don’t. Having discussed this with a fellow Kermodian last week, we were both interested to see what other fans think of your generous positive comments regarding Marky Mark Wahlberg?

  • Comment number 23.

    Well just back from Buried,it's difficult for a film to sustain momentum when you have a solitary guy stuck in a box for over ninety minutes. This film does just that, though if I'm brutally honest it didn't blow me away. Whilst it's very clever in it's delivery, and the tension builds nicely, I did find bits of it a tad predictable. Not sure if I was just unlucky, but lots of negative feedback from the audience comments I overheard as I left the cinema. Which is a shame, but it's certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea, though on the whole it definately both fascinates and entertains at the same time, but not one I'd care to watch again.

  • Comment number 24.

    Booking a cremation instead.

    Just going to pop outside and measure the patio first for the Mrs though.....

  • Comment number 25.

    Read the original screenplay for Buried and I actually thought that that read like an episode of the Twilight Zone. However, Dr K is rarely wrong so will give it a go.

  • Comment number 26.

    Strangely enough I saw Buried and Devil back to back, in that order last Wednesday.

    Sadly, I didn't connect with the tension in Buried because I started looking too much at the impressive technical challenge it represented (setting the action within the confines of a buried box), I ended up watching it for how it was made rather than watching it. This was a shame, it was clearly well written, acted (apart from the somewhat ludicrous terrorist shouty guy), and directed. The jet black comedy moments worked really well for me, perhaps I need to see it again in a more claustrophobic setting than a multiplex.

    Devil does what it says on the tin, and that's about all. Like almost all M. Night Shyamalan material, boilerplate weird fiction of the "Hitchcock presents" or Rod Serling mould. And as usual, the chief problem is that these stories would work better, be tighter and probably be more enjoyable, if they were developed for TV format in say an hour time slot (43 minutes without commercials and credits). The opening titles announce this as the 1st instalment of the "Night Chronicles", so perhaps Shyamalan should literally follow his inspiration back to the small screen. I'm just not sure how he'll look in the fat suit, intoning the words "Good Evening...."

    Finally, both these films make extensive use of blackout, which in the olden days was a cinematic taboo, the projectionist might think the bulb had gone. But now that we don't have proper projectionists any longer....

  • Comment number 27.

    Just saw the excellent Mark Cousins gets Kurdish kids to make movies documentary "The First Movie", there's quite a few pomegranate mentions.

    Also there's the classic of 19th century photography "The Odor of Pomegranates" ( )

    Dr. K. you can come out from behind the couch now.

  • Comment number 28.

    The biggest problem I had with Buried was not the tedious snake-up-the-trouser-leg cliché, but the mere fact that filming an entire movie in a coffin is photographically very boring indeed.

    For those who are not prone to claustrophobia and anxiety, Buried fails completely and utterly on a visual level.

    The ending was just so predictable and I was pretty glad to get out of the cinema into the daylight.

    I have to agree with Mark that Devil was duller than a dull day in Dulltown. One can't help feeling that a little success has gone to Mr. Shymalan's head and that he perhaps needs taking to one side and given a few quiet words.

  • Comment number 29.

    Heard really good things about Buried a good few months ago, then I came across recent reviews that weren't so positive and made me hesitant about going. But your review has got me excited again. Will definitely go see it this week.

  • Comment number 30.

    can somebody help - in either last week or the week befores PODCAST the guest from Norther Ireland stated his 2 best films set in Northern Ireland - I remember one as ANGEL )subsequently purchased, watched and REALLY enjoyed) - but can anyone else remember the other one please? Thanks

  • Comment number 31.

    I enjoyed Buried - it's up there with The Descent for "films the claustrophobic should avoid". I found that moments sagged (the snake, for instance, smacked of "what to do now?") and the ending needed something else with it. But aside from that, cracked along nicely, never left the box, and finally got to show Ryan Reynolds' abilities as an actor. Has anyone seen The Nines? not perfect, but under-rated.

  • Comment number 32.

    @ginola welwyn

    The other film mentioned was 'Elephant' (1989) a short film directed by Alan Clarke. It's available on Region 1 DVD which you can order online - there's one that comes parcelled with 'The Firm' (1988) at a reasonable price or another at exorbitant levels.

    Hope that helps!

  • Comment number 33.

    Also Ginola, you should watch Cherrybomb. Filmed and set in Belfast it is amazing!!
    (Though I am a bit biased to the fact)

  • Comment number 34.

    A much better film than Devil would have to be one of the earliest films by Vincenzo Natali, the master of the claustrophobic space thriller. Before he made Cube he did the short film Elevated which features the interactions between four people when on their journey to the ground floor someone covered in blood stumbles into their 'elevator' (or lift!) saying that there is a monster outside - is he a derganged maniac or is there really a monster outside?

    It is a brilliantly taught Twilight Zone-esque story with a perfectly staged twist ending that even Shyamalan would be jealous of not having thought of!

  • Comment number 35.

    bring back moviedrome

    i believe you to be a great candidate to host a new moviedrome


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