Buried Alive Reviews
Robert Kurtzman's 2007 effort The Rage has garnered accolades from any number of people whom I otherwise believe to have some taste in film. I have never understood what they see in it. Buried Alive, his 2007 follow-up, has never received those same kudos. That made sense even before I saw this movie, but now, for some horrible reason, I have seen it, and the best thing I can say about it is ?it's not the worst movie I saw today.? (That dubious distinction goes to the dreadful Machine Gun Preacher). But if you're looking for a decent horror movie, this is not the way to go.
Plot: cousins Rene (Going Down in La-La Land's Leah Rachel in her screen debut) and Zane (Green Street Hooligans' Terence Jay) attend the same college. Rene's sorority has a couple of pledges to haze, and Zane, who's on academic probation, is looking for an alternate means of living if he gets kicked out of school. Both of these things lead to the two of them packing a car full of young-and-beautifuls and heading out to the old ancestral pile, where grandpappy it a huge gold score a long time ago, much of which seems to have mysteriously vanished. Zane and his research assistant Phil (Here Comes the Boom's Germaine Scott Grimes) have come to the belief through scouring old newspaper clippings that grandpappy hid the rest of the gold somewhere on his property?a belief shared by eccentric old housekeeper Lester (Saw's Tobin Bell, whose taste in scripts continues to astonish), who's been doing some digging in the basement when not practicing his taxidermy. They, and tagalongs Danny (Latter Days' Steve Sandvoss), Laura (Repo Men's Erin Reese), and Julie (Lindsey Scott in, to date, her only feature appearance), soon discover that what grandpa buried in the basement may not have been a precious metal...
And hey, here's a surprise for anyone who's seen The Rage, or come to think of it anyone who's seen more than a half-dozen random DTV horror films made in the past quarter-century: nothing that happens in this movie is something you haven't seen before. (I should note that the ?surprise? in that last sentence was intended sarcastically.) This is about as standard a supernatural slasher film as supernatural slasher films come, to the point where you have most likely identified the Final Girl(TM) within five minutes of the movie starting. I gave it two stars because Art Monterastelli (Rambo)'s script does have a few genuine chuckles during the middle stretch?once they have gotten to the house, but before anything really starts happening, at the point where most movies of this strip drag like the killer's victims on their way to the meatpacking plant?but those moments are not nearly enough to carry this movie. **
The protagonists are in their late teens or early twenties and in some college somewhere in New Mexico, USA. The characters are Rene, who seems to have a lot of bad dreams; Zane (Rene's cousin), who's looking for a lost fortune from his family's history; Phil, the nerd who's helping Zane; Danny, who's cool for some unseen reason; Julie (dressed as cow) and Laura (dressed as dog), two sorority pledges who try to make Rene happy.
The six of them head out to the desert to find the 'treasure.' In parallel, Lester has been digging for gold out in the sticks, and seems to find some early on.
Zane starts seeing things. He does a panic stop at freeway speed to avoid running over someone; no one else sees anything. Oi. The group meets Lester, who is the caretaker for Zane's family's deserted house. There is friction there from the beginning.
Rene makes Phil tell the rest of the group about Zane's request for research on the family history. This is a bit troubled, but also seems a bit hard to have documented. The common great grandfather of Rene and Zane had two wives. When Phil goes outside for a better signal, someone kills him.
The group gets into a discussion of ancient totems and symbols. They find pictures of the great-grandfather's two wives; both of them wore the necklace which Rene currently wears. Laura has the symbol on the necklace tattooed on the back of her neck.
Rene sends Laura (dressed in boots) to bring back something from Lester's trailer. She gets there, selects a stuffed rabbit, and returns. Julie (dressed in jeans, poor choice; her feet suffer) makes the run to Lester's next. Zane carries Julie back after the ankle injury.
Still, no one checks on Phil, who is dead, but propped up in the car. After so many hours one might think they would notice something.
Looks like an elimination derby. How many of the remaining five will survive? Do Rene and Zane figure out the knot in their ancestors' history in time for it to do anyone any good?
Cinematography: 10/10 Well done, no complaints.
Sound: 5/10 Leveling problems, conversation versus 'music.' The music during the credits was really hideous.
Acting: 4/10 Germaine Scott Grimes, Steve Sandvoss: useless. Lindsey Scott, Leah Rachel, Erin Reese: not that good. Terence Jay: almost OK. Tobin Bell: rather good in an extended cameo.
Screenplay: 2/10 The central threat, the motivation for the revenge, and the ending did not make a lick of sense. What was the point of the Danny character, except to supply drugs? What was the point of the Phil character, except to slam people with computer skills? What was the point of the Julie character except her pneumatic figure? The characters Rene, Zane, and Laura were not interesting enough to make up for the general lack of story.
The caretaker of the estate, Lester (Tobin Bell) is eagerly searching for gold on the grounds, gold that is said to be hidden in the caves. But his search is halted when the teens arrive, and almost immediately the vision of an evil woman is seen.
It turns out there is an amulet (that Rene currently holds) that protects the owner, and a relative of Zane's wanted it from his wife, and ended up burying her alive. Now her spirit is out for vengeance against the bloodline.
This is your typical run-of-the-mill slasher flicks, with a weak storyline, weaker acting, and surprisingly flimsy effects. The characters are so unlikeable you find yourself rooting for the bad guy, and the ending - although satisfying - isn't worth the time required for you to get to that point.
I guess the end was watchable but the film does not take itself surriously umm to it's credit it works. The movie just tries to have fun and I liked the effort.
It deserves a little but more that a 17% liking rating.