-MONTHLY FILM & TV REVIEW-
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
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.