When I got the copy of 'Buried Alive' in the mail, I just thought 'horror' and threw it into the Jason pile. I didn't realize what it was. The website Fearnet.com (created by Sam Raimi's production company in a joint venture between Sony, Lionsgate, and Comcast) delivers free horror movies from the dusty stores of the companies involved and new web based content like short episodic shows. 'Buried Alive' was originally delivered in daily two-minute bursts on the site and challenged viewers to 'solve the mystery and look for clues' which all would have been fine and dandy if there was something in it for viewers if they did. No secrets pointing to a buried golden rabbit somewhere in the backwoods of Britain? No 'win a dream date with Linnea Quigley?' Regardless of the quality of this one (which appears to be suspect at best according to Jason in his review below) I'm gonna be checking out the site now that I know about it. Hell, they're running a 30 Days of Night sequel series going on now. If only there were more hours in the day...
What hath Myspace
wrought? The advent of the digital age has delivered film making to the unwashed masses. This may strike you as a good thing, but I assure you that it is not. It is a cancer. Every ape with a camera is committing some atrocity to video and now we’re inundated with the spawn of Youtube
. ‘Buried Alive’
has the distinction of being one of the first misshapen CHUD
s to crawl forth from that sewer.
Originally told in episodic format a la ‘LonelyGirl15’
, ‘Buried Alive’
was birthed from a serialized batch of horror shorts about 5 friends abducted by an unseen captor and buried in elaborate, camera-equipped coffins. The clock ticks away as they attempt to unravel the mystery of the who, how, and why. Above ground, their friends Travis
piece together the clues in an effort to rescue their friends.
The conceit here is that all of the cameras are naturally placed, existing within the confines of the story. The coffins are packed with cameras. Filled with them. Every possible angle. There’s video conferencing and text messaging. The story is conveyed through various caught-on-tape flashbacks, video blogs, and security cam footage. It’s the precious kind of fixation on modern technology that will be dated in no less than 5 years. As a constant reminder, we’re bombarded by visual artifacts – jerky jump-cuts and photo-shopped static – many of which aren’t even issues with digital filmmaking.
Within the first 10 minutes, the audience is plunged into a low-rent version of ‘Saw’
. The villain’s traps come off as something devised by junior high kids imitating the perennial series. This faux-Jigsaw
even sports an identical, modulated voice as he speaks to his victims. Imagine if Jigsaw
was some broke emo kid born with fetal alcohol syndrome, littering his crime scenes with vaguely menacing clues. Seriously, if you’re going to steal from a movie, why would it be ‘Saw’
? This just proves that the ‘Saw’
series doesn’t lead to violence, it leads to stupid movies.
Despite all of this, the mystery of the villain’s identity is mildly compelling. We found ourselves second-guessing everything that happened, knowing full well that much of it was misdirection. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any real momentum or tension built. The spastic editing saw to that. The acting, which at times borders on wretched, certainly didn’t help establish any connection to the characters. To be fair, you’re not really given any time to know them since they’re placed in peril right out of the gates. I usually applaud a movie that wastes no time, but this undermined any empathy I might have had for the victims. As some half-assed drama unfolded among them, I cared even less. There wasn’t even any joy in watching them die, just ambivalence.
The supplements here are pretty standard. The ‘making of’
featurette is marginally interesting as they explore the genesis of the story. Surprise, surprise – they started with the episodic medium and developed the story from there, rather than the other way around. They discuss how it was shown via Facebook
, and FearNet.com
(a neat little content-rich horror site, if you haven’t checked it out) and the restrictions this format placed on them. Along with your obligatory, back-slapping commentary, there’s a veritable motherload of deleted scenes. I’ve never seen this many on a disk. It’s all more of the same, however – lots of screaming and melodrama that’s completely interchangeable with what’s already in the film.
By now, the ‘caught-on-tape’
style of shooting seems less like a creative choice and more of a cost-cutting measure. Blame ‘Blair Witch’
, I suppose. There are some notable successes using this technique. [REC]
comes immediately to mind. ‘Buried Alive’
, however, is by the numbers, no-budget filmmaking. At an absurdly short 65 minutes, it’s not the worst way to spend an hour, but you won’t kick yourself for missing it. It’s unfortunate, since some successes on this front, coupled with the web distribution, would really bolster the medium. Instead, I was hoping that the ‘Leave Britney Alone’
misfit would be revealed as the villain, or maybe a malevolent band of Lolcats
. If you’re going to time-stamp your film with the technology du jour, you might as well brand it with a flash-in-the-pan meme, as well.
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