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Rated PG-13 (MPAA) · 116 min. · 2009

Horror, SciFi/Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller
Richard Kelly has original sin on his mind in The Box. An expansion of a Richard Matheson story, and subsequent Twilight Zone episode, this science fiction tale deals with absolutes of greed and compromise.

A couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) is delivered a box containing a machine. As they're told by the disfigured man who sent it (Frank Langella), if they push the button on it once, he'll give them a million dollars and somebody in the world they don't know will die. For about an hour, Kelly has made The Box a notable recovery from the debacles of Southland Tales and Donnie Darko: The Cut Where the Editor Didn't Save My Movie's Ass. He approaches his 1970s Virginia setting with washed-out pastels unseen since The Ice Storm, extending the unique artifice to the dialogue and acting. It's by midpoint that Kelly's contraption unravels into subplots, losing its focus on characters and its grip on viewers. As it reveals itself as a complex reworking of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Kelly delivers some payoff.

The ending ties up certain parallels nicely, even if it's easy to hypothesize those revelations beforehand. Other aspects, such as the symbolic connection of Diaz's and Langella's deformities, and a baptismal portal, just annoyingly linger. Not without interest, the inconsistent The Box opens to a collection of scenes that work and scenes that don't. Assembly required. –Mark Palermo

Official Site: thebox-movie.warnerbros.com
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer: Richard Kelly and Richard Matheson
Producer: Sean McKittrick, Richard Kelly and Dan Lin
Cast: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella, Basil Hoffman, Gillian Jacobs, James Rebhorn, Michele Durrett, Andria Blackman, Lisa K. Wyatt and Patrick Canty

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