2/28/10

A Small Package of Value will Come to you Shortly: The Box

If you can get past Cameron Diaz's peculiar accent, you might just find that Richard Kelly's The Box( a tantalizing, mind-fuck of a film),  well worth your time.

Based on Richard Matheson's short story, Button Button, The Box begins with us meeting a young couple in the suburbs of Virginia during Christmastime in 1976.  Norma and Arthur Lewis (Diaz and James Marsden) are struggling with a few woes (she's got a deformed foot that makes her limp, she's also about to lose her son's free tuition to the exclusive school that she teaches at; he's upset because he's been turned down for the NASA astronaut's program). Even though they appear to have it all, financially they are hurting.  Then, one day, a small package shows up at their front door.  Inside said small package is this odd little contraption that has a red button on top of it.  The doo-dad is locked, but a note claims that latter in the day a Mr. Steward (Frank Langella) will come to call and explain everything....
...and come to call he does, complete with the  bottom left part of his face missing, and soon an offer is made.  It seems that if one chooses, one can unlock the box, and press the red button.  Doing this will cause cause the person who has pressed the button to receive a million bucks (tax free), oh, and one other thing, someone the button presser does not know, will die.   I'll bet you know where this one is going...
...but you see, that's when things really start getting peculiar.  What should have been a straight ahead ironic tale of greed, becomes something much more oblique. Once the deed is done, director Kelly, takes us on a somewhat familiar ride through some of the same territory he covered in Donnie Darko and Southland Tales.  There are government cover-ups, conspiracies, time travel, alternate universes, religious overtones ... the only thing missing is a giant bunny named Frank. 
The Box is one of those films that demands the viewer watch with full interest, and let me tell you , it had me at the first nose bleed (you'll get that, once you've seen the movie).  While it's not as entertaining as Donnie Darko, at least it's more accessible than Southland Tales. And even though we tread into some insanely deranged themes, ultimately, The Box stays true to it's source material, ultimately it is a morality tale.   It just take a few hairpin turns on the way to its final destination.

4 comments:

Planet of Terror said...

A morality tale? Is that what this was? I still can't wrap my head around this. But thats probably because I downed a bottle of wine while watching it.

Jay Lynn said...

Perfectly said!!
"And now I am in touch with those who control it."

James said...

I loved this film - a real head-scratcher and utterly compelling!

Te* (Slasher Film Sanctuary) said...

Are they selling replicas of these boxes yet? ;P

I have yet to check this film out, as with anything referencing a "BOX" and Cameron Diaz together had me a little frightened. So now that I know it isn't a porno, I may have to give it a looksee. ;P