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:: The Box

Consider the situation; for one million dollars, would you be prepared to kill somebody you don’t know at a distance? In his short story ‘Button Button’ writer Richard Matheson makes us consider the moral implications of such a situation. Richard Kelly has extended the material to feature length in The Box. Incidentally, Matheson wrote the screenplay for Duel, Steven Spielberg's first feature.

The Box is set in 1976 in Richmond, Virginia. A married couple, Arthur (James Marsden) and Norma (Cameron Diaz), with their son are experiencing financial setbacks with job insecurity. Then one fine morning, a parcel arrives mysteriously on their doorstep containing a curious box with a large red button. A note with the box explains a Mr. Arlington Steward will call on them the next day. Enter a distinguished but disfigured Steward (Frank Langella). He makes an offer that should they press the red button they will be given tax free one million dollars. The only drawback is that an unknown person will die at the same time. The couple has twenty-four hours to decide or the box will go to another person.

Take into account the couple's background. Norma is disabled and works as a teacher at an established private school, but is about to lose the tuition discount that allows their son Walter (Sam Oz Stone) to attend as a student. Arthur works at NASA and is respected by many, but his application to become a new astronaut is denied. Because of this unfortunate chain of events, Arthur and Norma seem have no choice but to seriously consider pushing the button. Arthur examines the interior of box and finds it empty. Norma isn’t sure whether it's a joke or not, but finally pushes down the red button. The results that are far worse than they could imagine. The complex plot slowly unwinds to engulf most of the cast in catastrophe. The film ends on a curiously enigmatic shot.

As The Box moves forward, you can almost sense the pieces of the puzzle slowly-but-surely landing softly into their positions, and with each scene, more seems to make sense. Writer/director Richard Kelly weaves a web of intrigue and suspense, something in which he’s experienced from the film Donnie Darko. The real selling point for me would be the way that the film was shot. Kelly and his team did a phenomenal job of putting the film together and creating wonderful elements of suspense throughout the production; and many of the visuals helped to create a great feel to the movie.

Compliments to the band Arcade Fire, who recorded the film’s score. It was perfectly fitting to the vibe that the movie was trying to give off, Overall, The Box proves to be an entertaining thriller using a thought-provoking concept as a base for the plot.

DVD Extras

Audio commentary
The Box - Grounded in reality