Of particular note amongst this week’s new DVD and Blu-ray releases is Buried, Rodrigo Cortés’s tense, harrowing tale of a contractor, buried alive, trapped for the duration of the film in a 2’ x 7’ wood coffin. This is a risky formula for movie-making — not only must the filmmakers keep our interest in that confined space, but star Ryan Reynolds undertakes the considerable challenge of holding the audience’s attention, basically by himself, for 90+ minutes.
Unlike 127 Hours, which arrived in theaters around the same time and stole a good deal of its thunder, Buried eschews either a set-up prologue or flashback/cutaways outside of that box. We do hear the voices on the other side of the BlackBerry that’s been left in the coffin, but aside from that, Reynolds is all alone for the duration of the picture. It’s to the benefit of the suspenseful tale — by keying in on the claustrophobia of the situation, Cortés adroitly squeezes the film like a vice. But he couldn’t do it without Reynolds, whose low-key, admirably unshowy performance is a model of efficiency (and empathy).
His little decathalon of acting got us thinking: how many other actors have taken on the task of holding down an entire feature film, mostly if not entirely by themselves? Click through for nine more memorable examples.