Movie Reviews

Film Review: “The Box”

(Radar Pictures. 1 hour, 55 minutes. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some violence and disturbing images. Directed by Richard Kelly.) Cameron Diaz (Norma Lewis), James Marsden (Arthur Lewis), Frank Langella (Arlington Steward). Music by Win Butler, Régine Chassagne and Owen Pallett.

Norma and Arthur (Diaz and Marsden), a young couple that has hit a financial rough patch, are approached by a mysterious, deformed stranger (Langella) who offers them a button and a choice: press the button and receive $1,000,000, but someone they don’t know will die; or don’t, and receive nothing. Based on Richard Matheson’s short story “Button, Button,” The Box is a great premise that gets stretched past the breaking point.

Set in 1976 near NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, Kelly (best known for his cult hit Donnie Darko) ably captures a slice of life from a seemingly normal suburban family. The film’s strength lies in the “would you or wouldn’t you?” discussions in the beginning, but things begin to unwind around the movie’s midpoint. Once the couple has dealt with the button, they decide to research it and its deliverer. While this search does bring up some very interesting questions regarding the nature of morality, much of this gets lost in an increasingly muddy, supernatural conspiracy story. Even so, I enjoyed the lingering feeling of dread throughout, supported by Kelly’s visual acuity, a glacial pace and a wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack by members of indie rock band The Arcade Fire. Langella is smooth and charming and Marsden is affable enough, but Diaz is a bit wooden and really needs to work on her accent. Diehard Darko fans will have plenty of fun teasing out the film’s mysteries, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

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Jared Counts

Digital Technology Manager

Jared Counts moved to Houston in 1995, survived high school and college, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a degree in Communications (Media Production) and a minor in Film Studies. After being hired part-time at KUHF Radio in early 2003, he proceeded to bounce between...

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