Landslide a.k.a. Buried Alive (2004)
Directed by: Neil Kinsella
Starring: Vincent Spano, Alexandra Paul, Jay Pickett, Luke Eberl, Robert Pine
Let’s see, how should I put this? Oh, right: Landslide, re-titled Buried Alive when released on dvd in the U.S., is a snooze-inducing crapfest to make you long for the straightforward, unapologetic so-dumb-it’s-funny badness of a film like 2012: Supernova.
Vincent Spano – and oh, how he must yearn for the days of Rumble Fish or Alive – stars as New York firefighter Mark Decker, who comes to visit his son Steven (Luke Eberl) and estranged wife Emma (Alexandra Paul) at their new home in the rural and newly constructed Diamondback Vista Estates. The place is being built by Emma’s dad Don (Robert Pine) who has entrusted his second-in-command Stewart (Jay Pickett) with overseeing the project. Stewart is evil and greedy and has put safety aside in the name of personal profit, which in turn leads to a massive landslide burying the entire estate in dirt. Mark, Steven and Don are trapped inside along with some other characters, including a cleptomaniac with a penchant for random trivia, and a pregnant woman. Above ground, Stewart is corrupt enough to actually plan to release another landslide, in order to literally cover up his wrongdoings. Emma discovers his plan soon enough, and the race is on to save the people trapped under the landslide before Stewart can bury them for good.
There is honestly not much to say about this one, though that won’t stop me from rambling on at length. I found everything about Landslide dull and predictable. Most of the exterior scenes look like they were shot in a gravel pit, which they probaby were. We get one major disaster scene, the big slide itself, featuring low-budget visual effects that never feel realistic, though there are a couple of model shots that are really good for a 1960’s film (unfortunately, Landslide was made in 2004).
The slide is over and done with by the 25 minute mark, and after that we follow Mark and the others as they try to make their way through the buried building while resolving various personal issues. Yes indeed, this is one of those disaster films where the disaster mainly serves as an excuse to get people to serve up various banal epiphanies about the importance of family, the preciousness of life, or whatever. Most squirm-inducing of all is the soliloquy by the comic-relief cleptomaniac who is suddenly filled with remorse and decides to change his ways. Overall, Landslide makes your average Hallmark movie seem subtle when it comes to delivering its message.
In case the above ain’t enough to keep you thrilled (and it isn’t), the script adds another peril threatening the trapped characters: rattlesnakes! Bet you didn’t see that coming, huh? It seems the landslide awoke a nest of rattlesnakes who found their way into the ruins. It honestly doesn’t add much to the excitement, since the snakes seem more interested in going back to sleep than attacking anyone.
And no-one dies, for chrissakes! Everyone makes it, even Evil Stewart the aspiring mass murderer. Now, what kind of disaster movie is that? Not my kind, that’s for sure.
There are certainly some ludicrous details to smile at, though not funny enough to warrant further description. The one moment of inspired idiocy that I will take with me from this film is the part where old Don’s apartment is hit by the slide. Don and his secretary cling to the sofa as the room is turned upside down, because yes – the sofa, the table and the rest of the furniture is apparently bolted to the floor. Cosy, or what? Gotta try that when it’s time to redecorate…