How do you hold an audience’s concentration for 95 minutes with a movie filmed entirely in a box with just one actor? That was the challenge for script writer Chris Sparling and director Rodrigo Cortés with this tale of U.S. Truck Driver Paul Conroy (Reynolds) who is kidnapped following an attack by militants in Iraq and imprisoned in a coffin to die left with only a lighter and a cell phone for company. There is no motive for this attack with the exception of a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, and with air supply limited and the weight of a ton of desert sand above him, Paul doesn’t have very long to figure out where he is, why he is there and how he is going to get out.
The theme of claustrophobia is played heavily in the script and the direction of the film promotes this uncomfortable feeling for the audience. The first two minutes of the film is set entirely in darkness with the sounds of Conroy coming around and immediately injects that fear of small dark spaces into the audience to set out the uncomfortable journey ahead. The filming of the movie was cleverly done in such tight spaces as Reynolds himself spent all of the film ensconced within the confides of this wooden coffin with one side removed to allow for filming.
Reynolds performance in such a difficult situation is fantastic. He proves his abilities as an actor in such a difficult role and situation. His performance centres on the panic and uncertainty of a position with such style that it only helps promotes the central theme of the movie. It is difficult to understand how any of us would react to being in a situation like he is, but he really grasps hold of the many emotions that we would likely to feel.
Armed with a cell phone with limited signal and battery power, Conroy sets out to begin his own rescue mission and to also put wrongs right as he is faced with his impending fate. The only other actors to feature in the movie are simply voices over the phone including his ex-partner, the FBI and the haunting voice of his captor who demands he do things in his final minutes.
Being contained in a box for 95 minutes is a risky move and the direction of the movie really implores the nature of discomfort of the situation making it difficult to watch. In fact, real sufferers of claustrophobia may find this difficult to sit through. The darkness and tight space will encapsulate you as a member of the audience and for that full credit goes to the direction of the movie. An easy way of breaking the tension would have been the inclusion of flashbacks which have thankfully been ignored and we are left with a black abyss of entertaining pressure with an all-round gifted performance.