Icon Film Distribution
My initial reaction upon viewing The Box, the third film by director Richard Kelly, was wtf? Given that this is the same man who gave us Donnie Darko - a film I confess I am yet to see but am aware of its trippy aspects and subsequent cult following - fans of that film may well say 'but of course' or 'bring it on'. But I'm guessing that not too long into this overlong film their tune might change.
For what starts out as an interesting moral dilemma – a family is presented with an odd but seemingly harmless box with a red button: if they push the button they will receive $1million dollars but someone they don't know will die as a result – quickly descends into silly hokum involving all kinds of forces, man and – spoiler alert! – alien.
Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play the married couple, presented with the box by a mysterious and freaky-looking Frank Langella, and one suspects that all three may have signed-on for the film without having read the screenplay: perhaps they, too, were fans of Donnie Darko? Whatever the reason, all should be commended for keeping a straight face as events go from bad to worse, or rather from silly to sillier.
I'm also not entirely sure why the film has been set in the 1970s, other than that Marsden and Diaz, with her Farrah Fawcett-do, seem at home in the fashions. Perhaps the story needed to be set in a more innocent time, after all, who'd kill someone for $1million these days if they weren't also on a reality TV show or guaranteed some kind of celebrity in return?
Now I'm not someone who needs to have every event explained or tied-up neatly in a bow before the credits roll, but I am a stickler for a film having a point, no matter how ridiculous. If The Box does have a point then I missed it completely and so ultimately for me it was just ridiculous.
We've all sat through bad films, and some so bad that they are almost good – The Box does not fall into that category – but worse than being bad is a film that is boring. And at two hours, The Box is a significant bore. Given the chance, I'd push the button on this one; I'd be happy to sacrifice a stranger to get those two hours of my life back.