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Buried Alive (2007)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 9/30/2008

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/22/2008

If you enter the title "Buried Alive" into IMDB.com, you're going to get a wealth of results. That title has used over 20 times for movies, and who knows how many times it's been used in literature. (Which raises the question, why is it so popular? Is this a big fear for people? It's certainly not bigger than public speaking.) So, if you wanted your movie to appear original, then "Buried Alive" would probably be the last title that you would want to use. Which makes one wonder why the people from Fearnet.com would want to lay this moniker on their internet-series turned feature, Buried Alive.

As Buried Alive opens, we see five people, Rick (Bram Hoover), Curtis (J.R. May), Wylie (Natalie Wachen), Becca (Greyson Chadwick), and Sage (Nikki McKenzie), all individually attacked by a masked stranger. Each of the five awaken sealed in a different kind of coffin-like area, having no idea of where they are, or memory of how they got there. Some of the coffins contain objects or messages, some have video screens, and some of the detainees can speak to one another. Meanwhile, Sage's girlfriend, Melanie (Brit Morgan), receives a video message showing Sage being attacked. With the help of her brother, Travis (Jeff Blum), Melanie begins to look for Sage, having no clue that the woman is fighting for her life. During this time, we also see flashbacks showing that the five victims are all friends, and that Rick and Curtis would routinely torment a boy named Tommy (Augusto Aguilar), who had a crush on Becca. At time begins to run out, those who are trapped will realize that their pasts are catching up with them.

Buried Alive is taken from a series of Internet video which played on Fearnet, Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace, as an attempt by Sony to create original content of the web. It originally consisted of over 100 2-minute segments which have been gathered here and edited down to 65 minutes. The entire piece is comprised of "video footage" -- that is it's either webcams, Internet video, or handheld camcorders.

The movie plays like a cross between Saw and something like Prom Night (the original, not the remake). The scenes with the victims in their coffins feel very reminiscent of recent entries into the "torture porn" genre and the idea that the characters are racing against time and that there are clues in their coffins will definitely make one think of the Saw movies. The intermittent video drop-ins show us the history of the characters and the story is slow built as we see what these characters have done in the past compared with their comments of today. The segments with Melanie and Travis suffer from the standard "Why would anyone be videotaping this?" syndrome which befalls any film in this genre, but their scenes are interesting as well.

Overall, given that Buried Alive is a piece of low-budget filmmaking taken from an Internet-based series, it's not bad. The story moves along at a nice pace, and the editing style -- in which the pieces slowly fall into place -- certainly helps to make the movie watchable. The coffins have a creative design and some of the clues are somewhat creepy. Buried Alive does fall apart at the end however. The movie throws several twists at the viewer in the final reel and they never quite gel...although the last shot with Melanie is well-done. The big question here though is, Why would we pay to watch this on DVD? My answer is, I don't know. I checked out some of the online vids, but not enough to confirm that everything here is new. However, if you've seen the videos and found them interesting, this compilation is certainly worth a rental.

Buried Alive goes six-feet under on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The project was shot on Hi-Def cameras, but the image was then degraded to give it a certain look. Thus, rating the video content here is a challenge. I can say that this all looks like web-cam or camcorder footage. Looking past that, the image is sharp and clear, and there's no extra video noise or defects here. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital stereo audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track gives us some surprisingly nice effects (given the low-budget nature) and there's very good speaker placement when the victims are in the coffins.

The Buried Alive DVD contains a few extra features. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Director Paul Etheredge, Producer Jay Michael, and actors Brit Morgan & Jeff Blum. This is a fun and informative chat, as the group tells us a lot about the project. Etheredge and Michael comment on the logistics of the movie, such as the challenge of shooting on a low-budget and the effort to find locations, while Morgan and Blum talk about their experiences as actors on Buried Alive. "Making Buried Alive" (28 minutes) has Etheredge and Producer John Norris giving an overview of how the project came about. We then get a look at the production of the movie, showing how the coffin scenes were done. The segment also shows the making of the special effects make-up. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes footage here, and some shots which aren't in the movie. The DVD contains 17 DELETED SCENES, which presumably represent the webisodes which weren't incorporated into the movie.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long