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Buried Alive
cast: Tobin Bell, Steve Sandvoss, Leah Rachel, Terence Jay, and Erin Lokitz

director: Robert Kurtzman

91 minutes (18) 2007
widescreen ratio 16:9
Lions Gate DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Ben J. Lamb
You know the score by now with these straight to DVD, low budget, horror porn films and Buried Alive is by no means an exception. Once again, a group of good-looking and arrogant American high school students, for one reason or another, take it upon themselves to travel to a haunted hut in the middle of nowhere with no conceivable help in sight. In this instance we have the two coolest jocks in the school escorting the three hottest babes into the woods to help them out in some sort of fraternity initiation. With everyone's primary interests being drugs, sex and booze they have far more important things to do than study hard for their exams.

Maintaining their good looks in order to get as much sex as possible is an uttermost priority. The biggest puzzle of this film is not the unfolding plot itself but trying to distinguish between the two male lead characters, Zane (Terence Jay) and Danny (Steve Sandvoss). Looking and sounding virtually the same with no charisma between the two of them they are far too bland to carry a film. With their chiselled jaws and six-packs they are the stereotype personified of what all young men should aspire to be. Similarly the depiction of women is equally sexist as they are all portrayed as thick idiots whose only purpose is to be curvy, dance in their underwear and be unashamed in revealing their flesh as often as possible.

Although a group of teenagers would not be complete without their token geek. Armed with nothing but his glasses and laptop, Phil (Germaine De Leon) is more interested in his schoolwork and eating 'cheesy poofs' than sex and drugs. Being exploited by everyone to help with homework, we are not surprised to see him get the chop first. With such negative messages being promoted throughout the film one cannot help but think perhaps this is why all the filmmakers involved have been unsuccessful thus far with such an attitude towards life. Without a doubt all the actors involved were cast for their good looks and persona over their actual acting ability. I personally feel patronised that this is how our age group is depicted and how we are supposed to empathise with such characters.

Well thank the lord that all the actual acting has been left to Tobin 'Jigsaw' Bell who in this film is crazed gold-digging country bumpkin Lester. His voice may be deep and unsettling in the Saw franchise but here he is nothing more than a withered seedy old man wanting women to stroke his 'creamy' coyote. Without the voice manipulation equipment from Saw the extent of Bell's acting is exposed. When he refers to himself in the third person and talks to himself as a device to put his character in context, Lester cannot be taken seriously. There is no depth or likeable quality to any of these characters at all. The torture of this film is not in the actual horror but in the obnoxious people themselves. When their eventual deaths come around they are by no means gruesome enough to satisfy me, they need to be properly punished for all the prolonged suffering they have subjected us to.

Script-wise it appears writer Art Monterastelli seems to have thrown absurd ideas around and attempted to string them together is some sort of coherent plot. The entirety of the film has no build up but instead has the occasional clich�d plot device thrown in to progress events such as Zane and Rene's (Leah Rachel) bloodbath heritage, and some Chinese supernatural curse. But it is the concept itself that just does not make any sense. Why do an initiation in this location? What is the actual point when you know a crazy axe-wielding uncle hangs around there? Additionally, the dialogue is just cringe-worthy and unbearably focused on sex. Jokes such as 'fuck and buffalo' and the question, "where is the most awkward place you have had sex?" being tossed around is not terribly witty, observational or original but fairly disturbing if this is what the filmmakers think all teenagers have on their mind, to the point of bestiality and incest. With the sheer amount of blunt dialogue twinned with the vast scenes of nudity this should have really been a soft porn film, which would have definitely sold more copies and contained better plot development. The events are so predictable not a single person will be surprised. Even a film exclusive to DVD could have at least some redeemable qualities.

Although despite all these problems the biggest flaw of Buried Alive is that for a horror film there is very little actual horror. I do not care about this initiation subplot, which seems to soak up the entirety of proceedings. I want either skilled suspense and atmospheric filmmaking or failing that shocking out and out gore. This whole film seems to be about some arrogant college students gallivanting around some country house and having sex. Even when the horror scenes arrive they are not terrifying or unsettling by any means. All we see is an occasional axe wound and twice the camera jumps to the next scene once the axe comes down. The gore we anticipate is just so plain in the end.

The eventual confrontation comes in the closing scenes where the two remaining characters end up being buried alive. Not terrifying at all they just plead a bit as a few drops of soil spray over them, but immediately the camera cuts to a filled up grave without any suffering or tension portrayed. Sorry to spoil the ending for you but it is already ruined in the title. Overall, the gore itself is incredibly mild by today's standards as it is in no way particularly repulsive, gut wrenching or different. The long awaited horror scenes in the end do not justify the entire film.

The only reason this film may give me sleepless nights is the fact that such an appalling work could be green-lighted by Lions Gate in the first place. The entire film has nothing at all to even mildly unsettle but deeply bore. No barriers are pushed in the horror genre and the sex itself is not even erotic. Buried Alive just takes itself far too seriously. Perhaps more wooden acting, rubbish effects and an existent plot could have least made it humorously entertaining but the reality is that it is just boring and dull. This is a pure example of how production companies simply have far too much money to throw around. With no special features in sight expect this unimaginative clichéd work coming soon to a supermarket bargain bin near you.

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