Buried Alive Paul Etheredge

Buried Alive Paul Etheredge
A guy in a balaclava, waiving around a tire iron, serially kidnaps five friends, confining them in five different eclectically outfitted, and slightly larger than industry standard, coffin-like boxes. Using the familiar device of grainy, psycho’s eye view video feeds, Buried Alive tracks the (largely feckless) efforts of our young, attractive and ethnically diverse victims to suss out the identity of their captor before arcane deaths are meted out. Leaning heavily on the already tedious notion that kids today are loathe to let even one instant go by undocumented, we pick through a lot of old phone-cam verité footage of parties, outings and the like as they, and we, try to spot the clues. Meanwhile, on the outside, a brother and sister sleuthing team beaver away at figuring out, amidst profuse Hardy Boy/Nancy Drew overtones, just where the hell everybody’s got to. (Not only do they, too, film their every waking moment, but in true Blair Witch/Cloverfield fashion, they idiotically keep their eyes glued to the viewfinder long after any half-way sane person with an interest in the preservation of their ass would have dropped the damn camera and made for the exit.) Lazy screenwriting keeps them from going to the police, so it’s a race against the clock to see whether the Scooby Gang gets to our hostages before the villain exacts his mysterious revenge. Commissioned by Sony as a multi-platform, interactive series of 100 two-minute pieces for release on MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and their own horror website, FEARnet, Buried Alive might well have functioned better in that atomized, participatory format. As it is, this 65-minute, cut-down version, shorn of its interactive elements, is flat and pedestrian. And though the DVD is unrated, there isn’t even much sex or violence to distract the eye. Betraying its roots as something intended for the kind of young people most amenable to seeking out original online content, the filmmakers seem to count on viewer unfamiliarity with the Saw franchise or, indeed, with anything based in nuance or subtext. The kills are banal, the comeuppances are arbitrarily assigned and the script tries way too hard and way too early to point our suspicions at the weedy outcast with the bad hair, resulting in a misdirection that will fool no one. Extras include a raft of deleted scenes, a director’s commentary and a detailed "making of” where we learn, amongst other things, that much of Buried Alive was written on the fly, which comes as something less than a complete surprise. (Sony)