Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review 258: "Buried Alive (2007)"

Evil has awakened.


      Buried Alive is a 2007 horror film distributed by Dimension Extreme, a part of Dimension Studios dedicated to direct-to-DVD horror movies, but more extreme, and therefore, at least in this case, unrated. Great. The film is directed by Robert Kurtzman, a famous makeup artist who also directed 1997's Wishmaster and was written by Art Monterastelli, who wrote the most recent Rambo movie. The film follows Zane (Terence Jay), who brings his cousin Rene (Leah Rachel), her boyfriend Danny (Steve Sandvoss), two sorority pledges Laura (Erin Reese) and Julie (Lindsey Scott) and tech nerd Phil (Germaine Scott Grimes) to his old gold mining ancestor's home under the guise of pranking the pledges, but really it's to uncover the legend of his buried treasure. But in his hunt, he and the rest of his friends contend with creepy groundskeeper Lester (Tobin Bell) and the ghost of the ancestor's murdered wife.

Our heroes. We're doomed.
The Happenings

      I'll admit that I do have a strange interest in direct-to-DVD horror movies. I definately watch more than I should and I always give the film the benefit of the doubt, even though by now I should know better. But I have learned a thing or two after having seen so many. Like how most of these movies tend to go wrong in their second act. A lot of these movies I watch hoping for it to be at least so bad they're good, and many times the first act have followed through on that. At least until the second act ends up being boring as all hell. While these types of movies usually have interesting and fun set ups and interesting conclusions, the middle part is mostly filled up with nothing. It's almost all filler and the films tend to grind to a screeching halt.
      Buried Alive manages to avoid this pitfall. I mean, granted, it doesn't fill the second act with anything relating really to the plot, but at least stuff is happening, which is more than most movies do. The film does a good enough job getting us minorly interested in the story and characters. They all have distinct personalities, so at least we know who's who. And there is even a twist with the story involving a protection symbol that at least seems like it could go somewhere interesting. And while that makes up only a little of the filler, the rest is all, well, substance. Some stupid pranks, a sex scene, the film milking Tobin Bell for all he's got. At least it's watchable. They throw in the requisite gore and nudity as well, though the gore, while good, comes a full fifty minutes before anymore show up and the nudity is a very blatant streaking scene, though it does give us a funny joke or two. It might not be great, but at least stuff is happening. 

Something Boring This Way Comes

      The film does also have a fair amount of silly padding. A scene where one of the pledges get ready for the bath as the tub fills with blood lingers for a good forty seconds or so on just the bloody faucet. They have a scene where a character sees a ghost while driving down a desert road. Three times in a row. Yeah, But by far the worst is a random encounter with a snake, which after being dealt with, is followed up immediately with another snake jumping out. And the filler also creates a few good continuity errors as well. One of the pledges, Laura, turns out to be an expert on superstitions, ghosts and Native American culture (Gee, what a coincidence...). She at one point shows off a bunch of protections tattoos she has. And of course, when it come time for her to run naked across the desert, it's hard not to notice the tattoos have mysteriously vanished.
      And for as much of the film being filler, the actual climax with the ghost confronting the group is laughable pathetic. The film suffers quite a bit from the fact that, in the hour and a half long movie, the group is only aware of the ghost for the last ten minutes. And more than half of them are dead at that point. Yeah, it's not great. And when they are aware of the ghost, it's more a slaughter than a fight. The ghost pretty handily picks them off. And in doing so makes several of the film's subplots pointless, like the buried gold or the cousins weird sexual relationship (Oh yeah, forgot to mention that). The ghost's weapon of choice, an ax, doesn't even make sense when she died from being, you guessed it, buried alive. It also doesn't explain why she looks like she's covered in blood, but whatever. If it wasn't for the actual ghost turning out to be so incredibly lame, I might have actually found a small winner here. The atmosphere is nice and, if the film were a bit more subtle with some better actors, it might have worked. Oh, we can dream.

Oh no, she spilled a lot of wine in herself.
The Verdict

       Buried Alive is a very, very minor success. It has minorly interesting characters and few few good plot points. And in manages to fill it's second half with some pointless, though entertaining enough stuff. However, the film is almost entirely filler, filler which is often full of errors or not particularly subtle. And when the third act and the film's "villain" fall flat on their face, it makes for a disappointedly lame final act that cements this film's forgettableness. It's not that bad for a direct-to-DVD horror movie, but that's not saying much. Buried Alive (2007) gets 3 stars out of 6. 

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