Sunday, November 8, 2009

Open The Box, push the button and prepare for weirdness to ensue...

Unlock 'The Box', push the button and receive $1,000,000 dollars (tax free), oh and one catch, someone you don't know will die.

That's the basic premise and moral dilemma posed in this new movie from Richard Kelly, the director of cult hit Donnie Darko. From there you get a film that's equally slow, weird, creepy, chilling, imaginative and slightly perplexing, exactly what you'd expect from the quirky director.
The Box film poster
Set in 1970's (rather than the 80's of Donnie Darko) amidst the world of the NASA Viking Martian landing, it's a refreshing change to watch something unexpected, especially in today's world of cinema where the source material is increasingly either a book, comic, cartoon, video game or a remake of a classic movie, where you know the characters, circumstances and even at times the outcome.

For most of the movie it's a slow burn with an ending which isn't uplifting and even leaves you feeling a bit unnerved and troubled. It's very un-Hollywood with no real resolution, just more questions, so definitely a return to form after the flop that was Southland Tales.

My biggest criticism is that at times the film felt a bit like an extended version of the Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits.
The Box teaser movie poster
James Marsden is always overlooked as an actor I think and he's great here, especially in his 70's clothes. It's also nice to see Cameron Diaz playing against type, as a married mother dealing with the deformity of a crushed foot and monetary worries, rather than her usual cute, pretty carefree self.

Frank Langella, who I last saw in the magnificent Frost/Nixon, as President Nixon, is wonderful as the spooky disfigured visitor with The Box, Arlington Steward.
The Box movie poster
About half way through the movie you really do need to suspend your disbelief and if you're someone who just wants a simple suspense thriller where all the questions are resolved you'll probably hate this movie.

It's also a bit like Knowing in that it starts as one kind of movie, then veers off into a whole other sci-fi direction, again something some people won't like.

I found it intriguing if not a 100% satisfying, so I give The Box three *** stars.

Why not take a chance and push the button, go watch the movie, and see if the risk was worth it.

Hope you survive the experience...

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