Friday, November 6, 2009
The Box: Review
Question: A stranger offers you an unassuming box with a big red button on it and tells you that if you push the button, you will recieve 1 million, tax free, american dollars in cash, but someone whom you don't know will die.
What do you do?
Answer: Push the button and hope that the person who get's 86'd is at least one of the monkeys who decided to stretch this 26 minute Twilight Zone episode into a confusing, nearly 2 hour film that will ultimately infuriate you.
Maybe it's not that bad.
A man and wife (James Marsden and Cameron Diaz), are facing financial hardships and raising a young boy in Virginia circa 1976.
One day, a strange, disfigured man (Frank Langela) offers them the opportunity to have a million bucks if they're willing to push a button that will mean certain doom for someone whom they "don't know".
And that's it.
From a technical stand point it's effective as a suspensful thriller that draws you in and genuinely creeps you out more than it scares you. There are scenes that are very tense and in general, the idea of the ethics involved will keep you pondering what you would actually do if given the same challenge. That, along with the methodical pacing of the film and the way the clues slowly pile up will keep you tense and interested for a large portion of the movie. The performences are all strong too and even the music is effective.
The problem is in the eventual "pay-off".
Considering that it's written and directed by Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), it's not that surprising. Taking that into consideration, I shouldn't have been surprised when the movie jumped (the shark) in the middle of the 2nd act and went from tense and suspenseful to silly and confusing.
Like "Darko", box is so engaging and eerie that the preposterous explantion is dissapointing to the point that I, along with many of the people overheard at last nights screening, felt angry.
What could have been a frightning, pyschological thriller, ends up being a sort of pretentious and convoluted allegory on ethics and morality.
If you really, really liked Donnie Darko and didn't mind that 2/3rds of that movie was one thing and then it turned into something ridiculous, then you may enjoy "The Box".
If we weren't in a recession, I would suggest checking it out and deciding for yourself, but instead I'll urge you to wait to rent it "On Demand", which I assume it will be on in about 6 weeks.