Richard Kelly has this weird ability to create science fiction films that don't feel like science fiction films. Normally, its something that would irk me, but Kelly's approach to doing so draws me in and fascinates the hell out of me. "The Box" for example, is a cleverly hidden science fiction feature disguised as a moral lesson in the lens of a 70s period drama piece. Yet, somehow he makes it work.
"The Box" revolves around a well off family of husband, wife, and one young boy as their situation and life suddenly takes a turn for the worse. Suddenly their high status is fluttering as money suddenly takes a turn for the dumper. Then a house call changes everything. Mr. Steward offers them up a deal of a lifetime. Push a button in a box and they receive one million dollars tax free in cash. But the cost is that someone they don't know somewhere in the world...will die. What's the cost of a human life and the sacrifice of integrity?
"The Box" is understandably a controversial film. I fully understand why other individuals hate (and I use the term in a light form) this film. Why they criticize it so. Richard Kelly is somewhat of a odd writer and the story of "The Box" gets a little out there towards the end. He does that a lot with his films though and if you weren't expecting it I'm not sure what you wanted from him. Granted, if you saw the 80s "Twilight Zone" episode or read the short story "Button, Button" its even more understandable why this film seems to be controversial. Kelly takes it to the next level. Literally.
Of course, if the story doesn't float your boat (it did a lot of interesting things that I enjoyed), Kelly's style for the film might. His old school approach with long shots and almost Hitchcock style of filmmaking is pretty intense. Match that with some AMAZING score work and the tension of the decisions is amplified to new heights. Unfortunately, some of the acting is hit or miss. Cameron Diaz's accent nerved me a bit, but I was rather impressed with a normally mediocre Marsden. The true highlight is the subtle and charasmatic 'villainy' of Frank Langella as Mr. Steward. His digitally burned face and his acting steal the film and add a whole new layer to a rather think piece of film.
"The Box" is going to split fans of the genre and of Kelly. It does have some questionable moments in the film and the more I think about it, the more I wonder how it worked so well for me (looks like I might have to re-watch it later). In the end though, I enjoyed it quite a bit and Kelly still impresses me with his writing and directing style. Not recommended for everyone but its worth a glance if you get a chance.
Written By Matt Reifschneider