Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Just Buried (2008)
Liberation Entertainment | Buy at Amazon | Review by Sinferno

Remember the HBO series SIX FEET UNDER? In the pilot, a grocery clerk goes back home to bury his tragically deceased father and ends up inheriting the family funeral home. This is EXACTLY the same premise of JUST BURIED, and aside from a few instrumental musical flourishes which seem yanked from the series as well, the similarities of tone, wit and dry humor are constant as Oliver (Jay Baruchel) begins his destiny as unlikely caretaker/undertaker.

But JUST BURIED has a Hitchcockian twist as well. Because the funeral home is located in a small town “where not enough people die“, it appears he is going to be doomed to sell the business as quickly as he inherits it, that is until he meets a morbid embalmer vixen named Roberta (Rose Byrne) who previously worked under his father. Couple this with a freak accident where Oliver accidentally runs over a pedestrian who later becomes a paying customer, and a dark sense of supply and demand inspires he and his new lover as they find a new ways to supply the dying business, by snuffing out the living!

JUST BURIED is inherently watchable, it has all the elements. When it starts, Oliver is authentically meek and mild as he gets nosebleeds at the slightest exertion or exposure to unsightly things. Yet, while (sadly) we never truly get to see him turn into a true maniac, the character development helps the viewer identify with a murderous anti-hero who is pretty much awkward, self absorbed and unlikable. The relationship with Roberta is surprisingly developed, and she is everything he isn’t – smooth, attractive and completely merciless in her attempt to fill caskets for cash – so it requires no great stretch of the imagination to understand how and why they made such effective partners, and later, bitter rivals. This movie was designed by someone who actually did his homework on the finer points of being an undertaker, and the authenticity lends some uneasy chills to scenes that require a cold, technical, unfeeling motif.

The production values were better than I expected, too. Several elaborate sets and props were violently destroyed in the pursuit of their various "plots to fill plots". After sitting through scores of B movies where violent explosions were represented (almost symbolically) by the tossing of debris and the flash of light, it was refreshing to see some actual explosions and structural carnage... visual noise which I consider the percussion instruments in the great symphony of the thriller-murder movie.

Yet there are a few problems, the movie has a few too many characters whose relationship with the protagonist has no purpose but to pad the movie, and I also feel that most “normal” audiences will find it too bleak. Personally, I could have stood a little bit of humor to break up the classic "murder for money" and pathos plotline, but this is just a personal taste and I will not impose my judgment onto the director. As we break it down into the usual 5 elements that make a cult film to me I must admit that while this movie didn’t exactly "kill me dead", it didn’t put me to sleep either.

Sinferno Says...
Yucko/Neato Factor: Funeral homes are always unsettling places, and the mythos of the undertakers is always a disturbing one. As grisly as it needed to be, and not a drop more. The “Unrated” rating was unnecessary as R would have covered it.
Production Values: I was fooled into thinking this movie was bigger than it was, due to decent pyrotechnic effects and collateral damage. Nova Scotia was the perfect setting for this film.
Realism: A little wacky in the final ten minutes, but the dry, deadpan acting of the principals made the classic "killing for profit" storyline seem plausible.
Value for Price: $22.49 is a little high, but it would be the ultimate date movie for the brooding Goth girl in your life.
Plot: Much like life itself, It was some times hard, it was some times cold, and it played out to the same predictable conclusion that I expected, but the fun I had with it along the way was what mattered most in the end.

 


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