The Box gets a passing grade chiefly for what it is not: It’s not boring and it’s not predictable. As for what it is … good grief. A mess?
Based on a short story by Richard Matheson (a writer whose work runs the Hollywood gamut; everything from the good, like I Am Legend, to the bizarre, like this film), The Box left me scratching my head. Should I watch it again, to see if it makes more sense? Nah, I didn’t like it well enough the first time. But it does have intriguing parts to its ridiculous whole.
Start with the soundtrack. It’s rare that I even notice the background music in thrillers. But in this film the score by Arcade Fire screams for attention. It often becomes a distraction, as the musical group channels everything from Bernard Herrmann to 1970s strings and bells. And yet, like the film itself, the music has an odd charm.
Matheson’s plot is about a young couple forced to make a difficult choice: earn a million bucks but cause someone’s death, or decline the money. That’s an old plot, but there’s no denying the film’s originality. Grade: C-
Director: Richard Kelly Cast: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella, James Rebhorn, Holmes Osborne Release: 2009
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