Newest Review: ... the box. Arthur is rather sceptical regarding both the $1m and the warning that someone will die if they do press the button, but at the ... more
What's in the box?
The Box (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
The Box (DVD)
Advantages: Fairly well-acted, good build-up, good special effects
Disadvantages: Confusing, baffling, too far-fetched
RELEASED: 2009, Cert.12
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 115 mins
DIRECTOR/SCREENPLAY/PRODUCER: Richard Kelly
MUSIC: Win Butler, Regine Chassagne & Owen Pallett
James Marsden as Arthur Lewis
Cameron Diaz as Norma Lewis
Sam Oz Stone as Walter Lewis
Frank Langella as Arlington Steward
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Based on Richard Matheson's story called Button Button, The Box begins with teacher Norma Lewis losing her job, which worries her as to how the family will cope financially.
Very early one morning whilst Norma, her husband Arthur and son Walter are still in bed, there is a ring on their doorbell. By the time Norma gets to the door the caller has vanished, but she notices a square package wrapped in brown paper has been left on the doorstep, and takes it inside. Norma and Arthur decide to open the package, to find it contains a strange wooden box with a globe-shaped piece of glass adorning the top. They both wonder what it could be, when Arthur discovers a handwritten note inside the packaging he is about to discard. The note advises that if they press the glass dome on top of the box, they will be in receipt of $1m, but that one person somewhere in the world will die as a result. This promise is confirmed by a strange man (Arlington Steward) who visits the house later in the day, claiming to have been the person who delivered the package.
When Arthur returns home from work, he and Norma discuss what they are going to do about the box. Arthur is rather sceptical regarding both the $1m and the warning that someone will die if they do press the button, but at the same time both are tempted by such an amount of money and grapple with their consciences as to whether they should cause the death of another simply to gain a huge financial reward.
The need for the money gets the better of Norma, so she pushes the button, and on the following day, the strange Arlington Steward pays another visit, handing over the $1m packed into a briefcase, yet asserting that someone definitely will die as a consequence of Norma's choice.
It seems a very easy, even if immoral way to earn $1m, but before long, it becomes apparent that things don't end there as strings are attached, and the fact that Arlington Steward has a badly disfigured face, is relevant to the storyline.
The Box is a strange sort of film which comes across to me as a genre mish-mash of horror, thriller, fantasy and drama, laced with a definite edge of sci-fi.
The beginning is very good, setting the scene well in the way that it gets the juices of suspense flowing rather nicely, but from the point where Norma takes the plunge and pushes the button, it all starts to get a bit confusing, and it is a confusion which mounts as the film progresses.
The acting is fairly good from all concerned, especially the main characters, although not what I'd personally deem as particularly outstanding. The music is a little too dramatic and up-front for my tastes in films, and is typical of a drama/fantasy of this nature.
I'm not quite sure what kept me watching The Box through until the end, as I honestly hadn't got a clue what it was all about once the button had been pressed, but something urged me to stick with it, despite the confusion levels accelerating throughout. It could be that I was possibly waiting for a finger of clarity to extend from the heavens and plant a golden light of understanding inside of my brain, but it simply didn't happen. Also, again despite being completely out of the picture as to what on earth was supposed to be going on, I did find the film moved at a healthy pace and I think I was particularly drawn to the idea of people being tempted into a situations whereby they are forced to make impossible choices.
Some of the camera angles were very good, and if The Box had been simply a horror film without the sci-fi/fantasy elements, it could have come across as pretty chilling.
I can't say that I found the film particularly scary or creepy, but the issue of people being forced to make impossible choices did make me feel a bit uncomfortable as I could imagine myself in the same situation where I simply wouldn't be able to cooperate....such lack of cooperation from me would have led to disastrous consequences.
The ending of the film is two-fold, one part of which I understood perfectly, but the other part left me completely baffled as to how what happened could have arisen and why. The baffling part contained some pretty stunning special effects though.
I did lose the plot altogether after about the first 40 or so minutes of the film, so can't really push The Box anywhere near my all-time favourites list, simply because despite the good acting, good special effects and it otherwise being a well put together movie, it just didn't hit my spot or interest me enough to make me earmark it for a second viewing.
I will stick my neck out here as a confirmed loather of remakes, and say that I do feel The Box could perhaps benefit from a makeover, but any director taking on this task I feel would have to present it in such a way that the storyline is much clearer than how it presently stands.
In summary, I'm really in two minds as to whether to recommend The Box or not, because some parts of it are not brilliant, but really good...yet huge swathes of it just left me with a massive question mark hovering over my head. I would imagine this film could perhaps appeal to fans of the type of sci-fi material which is earthbound and doesn't wander into the realms of extra-terrestrials, but when all's said and done and as a whole, it simply didn't hit my spot.
At the time of writing, The Box can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.26 to £16.44
Used: from 90p to £9.50
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: An admirable attempt, but not really my type of thing